OAN’s Elizabeth Volberding
4:15 PM – Thursday, September 7, 2023
Two showings of the Sound of Freedom have been canceled by the military’s United States Southern Command, or SOUTHCOM, at its headquarters in Doral, Florida.
On Wednesday, the command confirmed that they would be pulling the Christian thriller from its scheduled screening. The film is a true story about a former federal agent who quits his job and embarks on a dangerous mission to rescue a young girl from sex slavery in South America.
According to the U.S. Army Garrison-Miami manager Joanne B. Fitzgerald obtained by The Military Times, Sound of Freedom was originally going to be shown at its headquarters “in support of SOUTHCOM’s mission to promote respect for human rights and combating trafficking in persons in Central and South America and the Caribbean.”
Fitzgerald also noted that “the showing of this film does not imply or constitute endorsement by the U.S. Army nor SOUTHCOM.”
Military Times reached out to SOUTHCOM in an email regarding the free screenings, initially planned for August 28th and October 19th, however the command canceled them and explained to those on the base that screenings were halted until further notice in order to “prevent the appearance of copyright infringement.”
“The movie’s central theme and its connection to SOUTHCOM’s AOR and our Human Rights Office (HRO) Combatting Trafficking in Persons (CTIP) program are inescapable and will serve to raise awareness of the prevalence of trafficking in human persons and sexual abuse and exploitation within our area of responsibility,” SOUTHCOM said.
Critics have questioned the decision to play a political and largely Christian film on a federal facility, especially since troops are expected to maintain their political stances while at work.
Additionally, Sound of Freedom, which has earned nearly $182 million in the U.S. and Canada since its July 4th release, has accumulated negative headlines after its lead actor, Jim Caviezel, publicly associated the film’s anti-exploitation plotline with unproven Q-Anon theories.
Q-Anon has been linked to being a political conspiracy theory and political movement.
SOUTHCOM’s spokesperson Jose Ruiz explained to the outlet that the “subject of the movie is something that’s of great concern to the command, in that it follows as part of its mission of countering transnational criminal organizations,” he said. “Because of the way these transnational criminal organizations exploit migrants — the hopes of migrants — in ways that end up being serious violations to their human rights, and unfortunately in some cases lead to the deaths of the migrants.”
Amy Colonel Emanuel Ortiz made a statement regarding the situation.
“Insofar as the film is concerned, following this review, a determination was made to cancel the screenings,” Ortiz said. “Individuals interested in viewing the film can still do so at a local theater of their choosing. The now canceled screening was intended to help raise awareness of the nexus between [transnational criminal organizations] and human rights abuses they frequently commit as part of their human smuggling activities,” which sometimes falls within SOUTHCOM’s area of responsibility.
Originally, the screening was announced in an e-mail by the U.S. Army Garrison-Miami (USAG-M), which invited all locally based military personnel to attend, according to the Military Times.
Ortiz confirmed that USAG-M and SOUTHCOM were initially interested in showing the film in order to “educate” and “inform” the service members of the issues portrayed in the movie’s central story.
He also stated that USAG-M said, “it could help raise awareness of human rights issues closely associated with the nefarious activities of transnational criminal organizations (TCO) operating in Central America, South America and the Caribbean, where SOUTHCOM closely partners with Host Nations to counter the threat posed by those violent criminal groups to our hemisphere and its citizens.”
Sound of Freedom, directed by Alejandro Gomez Monteverde, is based on Timothy Ballard’s efforts of anti-trafficking movements. Ballard has claimed to work for the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security before starting an anti-child-exploitation group known as Operation Underground Railroad.
However, multiple outlets have reported that Operation Underground Railroad’s missions are difficult to verify and not necessarily truthful.
Although Sound of Freedom screenings have been canceled at the SOUTHCOM headquarters, they have ultimately promoted the film’s showings at local theaters for those still interested in it.
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