By Diane Howard, Ph.D.
Sound of Freedom, serving as a rallying cry to end human trafficking (the worst of which is against children), is an outstanding movie based upon the true story of former government agent Tim Ballard who quit his job to rescue a little girl from sex traffickers in the Colombian jungle. In the process, Tim ended up saving 123 people, 55 of which were children, from one mission alone.
Tim Ballard spent more than a decade working as a Special Agent for the Department of Homeland Security, where he was assigned to the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force and deployed as an undercover operative for the U.S. Child Sex Tourism Jump Team. He has worked in that role and since in every type of case in the fight to dismantle child trafficking rings. He’s worked in the United States and in multiple foreign countries to infiltrate child trafficking organizations. He has successfully dismantled dozens of these organizations and rescued children from slavery and exploitation.
While working for the government, Ballard saw how much more is needed in the fight against child trafficking and exploitation across the world. In 2013, he and a team of former government operatives left the security of their careers to accomplish the work of rescuing children as a private foundation — Operation Underground Railroad. At O.U.R., Tim has created a team that can work in any jurisdiction and in conjunction with law enforcement to rescue children directly. That team exists today and operates all over the world.
Sound of Freedom is a powerful movie with captivating acting by skilled actors. Tim Ballard, played by Jim Caviezel, is a former government agent turned freedom fighter, who embarks on a dangerous mission to rescue children from human trafficking. This emotionally riveting narrative is a compelling story of heroism and stands as a testament to the tenacious, inspiring spirit of those who refuse to let evil triumph. This movie is heart-breaking and heart-warming. It is honest and authentic but not gratuitous. It gives voice to the voiceless and hope for what seems hopeless. It inspires the desire to care for and protect children by every means possible. It provides hope for a solution to their endangerment and abuse. Because this is real problem that is often ignored at all societal and cultural levels, this movie encourages bravery to take a stand against real, growing human trafficking and slavery worldwide.
The story follows Tim and his team as they arrest a man who’s bringing a boy across the border from Mexico into California. After rescuing the boy, Tim talks to him and learns his sister was also trafficked. The darling boy has been abused but is able to reconnect with his father. Tim has the hope that he can reunite the sister with her brother and father. He goes to South America to run a sting operation with a former cartel member and a local government agent. Tim realizes that the US government can’t fund his operation. Fueled by hope and supported by his wife (Mira Sorvino), Tim becomes a vigilante who executes a large-scale plan to save the little girl, as well as many other children abducted into human trafficking. Although the movie follows the harrowing experiences of the children and rescuers, there is nothing explicit. Just the implications for the children are disturbing enough to rouse desires for action and protection in the audience against these horrible practices..
Faith Content Network provides this movie for churches without hosting, licensing fees to the church. Angel Studios identifies movie theaters and times to see this strong film. It also provides a way to Pay it Forward by purchasing tickets for others and/or to purchase group tickets.
In this strong movie, Eduardo Verástegui plays the role of Pablo. Eduardo is a Mexican actor, producer, businessman and philanthropist. He began his entertainment career as a member of the Mexican pop group Kairo in the 1990s before transitioning to acting in telenovelas.
Eduardo gained international recognition for his leading role in the 2006 film Bella, which he produced with the production company he co-founded called Metanoia Films with Alejandro Monteverde, who is the director and a writer for this movie . He is also known for his humanitarian work and began a nonprofit organization called Manto de Guadalupe that aids those who don’t have access to food, shelter, health care, or education.
Dr. Diane Howard has interviewed Eduardo Verastegui about his work and concern for children.
Eduardo is the producer of Sound of Freedom and has since toured all over Mexico and beyond to partner with local government leaders, educators, law enforcement, and foundations to prevent child exploitation.
Jim Caviezel’s depiction of Tim Ballard is riveting, Jim’s breakout role came in his role of Edmond in The Count of Monte Cristo, quickly followed by his portrayal of Jesus Christ in Mel Gibson‘s film The Passion of the Christ. He also gained recognition for his performances in The Thin Red Line and more. Jim is known for his strong Christian faith and has been actively involved in various charitable causes. He has been married to his wife Kerri for over 20 years and they have adopted three children together.
The actors, directors, writers, and producers, as well as all involved in promoting this movie are of the highest caliber in terms of their craft and character. They have continued to demonstrate great tenacity and courage to make and promote this movie with its sobering real truth that many at all levels do not want to face or combat.
Sound of Freedom has had amazing success in the US, despite many obstacles. According to the Hollywood Reporter, “Angel Studios…announced release dates for 21 markets, including the U.K., Australia, Spain, South Africa and a host of countries in Latin America. It begins its foreign run next month. At the U.S. box office, the movie crossed the $100 million mark July 19, a little over two weeks after its release July 4. And it finished Tuesday of this week with a cume north of $130 million… Sound of Freedom has stayed high up on the domestic chart since its debut, and is even outpacing Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One…” This movie has also surpassed “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.”
The incredible success that the movie has found in the States has allowed it to expand into the global market. Jared Geesey, Angel Studios’ vice president of global distribution, says, “Since Sound of Freedom launched in the U.S., demand has been building around the world in dozens of regions and languages…Child trafficking is a global issue, and we hope to build on the incredible momentum here in the States and share the film’s powerful message worldwide.”
Sound of Freedom opens in South Africa on Aug. 18 and is followed by Australia and New Zealand on Aug. 24. On Aug. 31, it opens in Latin America, showing in the following: Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Belize, Panama, Colombia and Venezuela. On Sept. 1, it goes to the United Kingdom and Ireland, playing in Spain starting Oct. 11. Angel Studios will distribute the movie directly in Latin America, the U.K. and Ireland and will partner with local distributors for other markets. Angel Studios enables filmmakers to crowdfund, create, and distribute films and TV series globally, as it is backed by thousands of Angel investors. Sound of Freedom garnered the number 1 spot on its opening day of its wide US release, and the number 3 spot over its first weekend.
“As with our July 4th numbers, today’s numbers exceed our expectations, and we’re going to continue this momentum. Sound of Freedom has taken on a life of its own. We’re getting messages from all over the country telling us about packed theaters, sold-out theaters, and spontaneous standing ovations for the film in numerous locations. Seeing this film has become a must thanks to incredible word-of-mouth,” says Brandon Purdie, Head of Theatrical Distribution at Angel Studios. “We’re deeply grateful to AMC, Cinemark, Regal, and all our theater partners—and their hard-working theater staff members—for working with us to accommodate the surging demand for this film and having the courage to release Sound of Freedom during the busiest movie season of the year.”
Each of us can support the world-wide effort to rescue those who are victims of human-trafficking by seeing and supporting this movie and its rallying call.
Diane Howard, Ph.D. is a dialogue, dialect and voice-over coach, as well as a journalist who writes about the role of faith in movies and in the entertainment field. Her website is dianehoward.com.