A photo of Jim Caviezel's movie cover for Sound of Freedom.

Sound of Freedom Controversy

Updated Aug 04, 2023 at 11:44AM EDT by Adam.

Added Jul 10, 2023 at 12:34PM EDT by Phillip Hamilton.

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Overview

The Sound of Freedom Controversy refers to the contention surrounding the 2023 "faith-based" movie Sound of Freedom, starring Jim Caviezel. The film, based on a true story, has Caviezel play Tim Ballard, a former government agent who goes undercover to take down a child sex trafficking ring in Colombia. The film was first announced online in 2018 and was released in July 2023, sparking controversy as some reviewers and media outlets linked the film to the QAnon conspiracy theory, with Caviezel openly promoting aspects of the theory throughout the 2020s. The film's lack of advertising also became contentious, with some hypothesizing that it was being suppressed by the media. Sound of Freedom performed well upon release, making over $40 million USD in its first week.

Background

Sound of Freedom was first announced in October 2018, with the official soundoffreedommovie Instagram[1] page posting its first behind-the-scenes photo on October 25th, 2018. The film was purportedly finished that year but shelved by Disney, inspiring the creators to go independent.[10] The film's studio, Angel Studios,[2][3] hosted several funding campaigns for the film's "prints and advertising" and for its "pay it forward" program in which money is donated to give people free tickets, both surpassing their goals. On July 30th, 2020, the first trailer for the film was released, garnering over 1.5 million views in three years (shown below).

The movie is based on the true story of Tim Ballard, a Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agent who works to arrest people for child pornography distribution in the U.S. According to the plot, Ballard knows most child trafficking happens outside the U.S., so he begins going undercover to arrest traffickers by posing as a pedophile, eventually leading him to try and save a boy named Rocio (the brother of a child he saved) in Colombia. HSI is unable to fund the mission, so Ballard resigns and goes independent, although he manages to get the U.S. Embassy in Colombia to help with the operation.



On April 17th, 2021, Caviezel appeared at 2021's Freedom Conference to promote the film. During his talk, Caviezel made mention of "adrenochromeing children," a topic that is often linked with QAnon conspiracy theories. The videos were shared by Twitter[4] user @ehananoki that day, garnering over 3,000 likes in two years (shown below). Vanity Fair[5] also reported on it that day.


Developments

On May 11th, 2023, the Angel Studios YouTube[6] channel uploaded a trailer for the film, garnering over 3.1 million views in two months. On June 3rd, Worth It or Woke?[7] reviewed the film prior to its release, giving it a 97/100 and giving it a 100 percent "non-wokeness" score.

On June 23rd, YouTuber[8] The Daily Signal posted an interview with Caviezel titled "Jim Caviezel Slams Woke Media For Hiding Truth, Call For Sex-Trafficking Whistleblowers," garnering over 1.5 million views in just over two weeks where Caviezel talks about the film and "powerful" people being "afraid" of the film (shown below). He also discusses how people don't talk widely enough about child sex trafficking, using Epstein Island as an example.



"We were showing it in Vegas and there were about five screenings, 1,500 people that saw it. During the five screenings, each screening, there was a ton of talking that went on. The second time it happened, third time, talking in this one particular spot. And I’m thinking, did we do something wrong? One more time it happened, at the end I was asking about the movie, and I asked about that one particular part where everyone is talking, and they all cried out, ‘Epstein Island.’ And I went, ‘Oh, OK. Now, I understand what we’re up against.’ Epstein Island isn’t the only sex island out there, and Tim Ballard takes down one in the film."


On July 3rd, 2023, Jezebel[9] posted a review of the film, calling it "an Anti-Child Trafficking Fantasy Fit for QAnon," in which it highlights Caviezel talking about adrenochrome while promoting the film, writing:

I feel no urge to ever see it again, but I can’t say I wasn’t entertained in some way. Maybe “bemused” is a better word. But of course, this is tailored to go down easy. That’s how propaganda works, and Caviezel’s shameless begging at the end of the movie underlines a desperation to disseminate.


That day, Jordan Peterson posted a video to YouTube[13] interviewing Caviezel and Ballard, garnering over 2.2 million views in a week (shown below). On July 4th, Sound of Freedom was then released in U.S. theaters, garnering over $40 million in its opening week.[12] On July 6th, The Guardian[11] reported on the movie in an article titled, "Sound of Freedom: the QAnon-adjacent thriller seducing America."



Fabian Marta Child Kidnapping Arrest

On July 23rd, Fabian Marta, who helped finance the film, was arrested on charges of child kidnapping. It is believed that the charge is related to running a "Sugar boot camp," which taught women how to develop skills to attract Sugar relationships where men would spend money on them in exchange for sex.

Conspiracies

The release of the film has been subject to several conspiracies, most notably a conspiracy that AMC theaters were intentionally sabotaging the air conditioning at Sound of Freedom screenings. The conspiracy was firmly denied by both AMC and the film's studio, Angel Studios.

Online Presence

Following the film's release on July 4th, 2023, TikTokers began posting videos about it, many wondering why the film has garnered little mainstream presence or advertising despite doing well. On July 4th, TikToker[14] @ammo01611 posted a video asking this, garnering over 4.1 million views in six days (shown below, left). On July 9th, TikToker[15] @itslinklauren posted a similar video, garnering over 865,000 views in a day (shown below, right).

@ammo01611 Sound of Freedom Film #film #films #filmscene #filmscenes #filmposter #poster #movie #movieclips #movieclip #movietok #movies #moviescene #soundoffreedom #melgibson #jimcaviezel #kidnapping #crime #fyp #foryoupage #foryoupageofficiall #support ♬ original sound – Ammo

@itslinklauren Sound of Freedom has made some controversy but maybe that’s what cinema has to do sometimes #sofmovie #soundoffreedom #soundoffreedommovie #cnnnews #foxnews #politicaltiktok ♬ original sound – Link Lauren

That day, Twitter[16] user @TheRightMelissa posted a video of a 2014 CBS news story about Ballard, praising his work taking down child sex trafficking rings, garnering over 30,000 likes in a day (shown below). The caption reads, "In 2014 CBS did a segment applauding Sound of Freedom’s Tim Ballard’s work against child trafficking. Almost 10 years later the same media is calling the film inspired by his work, 'paranoid' 'Qanon conspiracy' Why?" Later that day, YouTuber[17] The Critical Drinker gave the movie a positive review, garnering over 700,000 views in a day.


Search Interest

External References

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Top Comments

Ass Railroad
Ass Railroad

in reply to Ass Railroad

A second thing I will add after thinking on this for a while, of COURSE this movie didn't get "mass media coverage." There is a wide but small independent film market in the US that makes Christian or Conservative focused films, that has always made things on a budget and distributed to small markets. This is not a mass Hollywood release, but an indie flick that goes to theaters in areas where they can figure they can reap the profits. I live in one of those regions, and can tell you I have seen plenty of Sound of Freedom billboards up and about (like a menagerie of other indie films I see all the time advertised around the area over the years).

If the film producers are smart they know it's not going to be making big bucks in a wide release strategy, so they keep it in local very conservative areas while avoiding mass budgeting since a nation-wide campaign would be a waste of their limited marketing cash. It is actually a pretty impressive business strategy since its kept some film studios chugging away for a long time via small market indie flicks; but it is no secret those films rarely make a big splash in the mass market.

There are times these films "escape" to the mass market if they are appealing enough (Napoleon Dynamite managed to do it by avoiding the topic of religion and politics all together and just focusing on absurdist humor) but it is not often.

+54
Ass Railroad
Ass Railroad

The wild thing is, I remember once reading an article from the real Ballard where he called Qanon crazy. Particularly he said the Pizzagate scandal was so absurd it was distracting from real efforts to stop sex trafficking by flooding tip lines and investigators with fake Pizzagate "evidence." Not sure if Ballard would still stand by those statements if Qanon is the big fan base of this movie now, but I remember him saying that once.

+52

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