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"Sound of Freedom": Opinions Divided

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The new U.S. film caused controversy due to the polarized opinions it generated among audiences. Here's what you should know about "Sound of Freedom".

Still from the film 'Sound of Freedom'

Photo: Song Films

LatinAmerican Post | July Vanesa López

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Leer en español: “Sonido de libertad”: Opiniones divididas

On July 4, "Sound of Freedom," an action film directed by Alejandro Gómez Monteverde and starring Jim Caviezel and Eduardo Verástegui, who also produced it, was released. Although it was a highly anticipated film and a box office success in the United States, it did not receive much media attention during the first weeks of July, perhaps because all eyes had been on "Barbie" and "Oppenheimer" for over a month. However, in recent days, the film has been at the center of divided opinions about the subject matter and how it is approached. While some praise the production, others consider it irresponsible, mainly because of its close relationship with the American ultra-right.

Why Did it Generate Divided Opinions?

The story follows the alleged true story of Tim Ballard, a well-known former federal agent with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) who decided to resign to focus on rescuing trafficked children in Latin America. Although Ballard claimed to have dismantled several child trafficking rings, DHS never confirmed or denied this. Ballard was also heavily criticized for his off-the-record investigations, for broadcasting raids, disregarding the privacy of the victims, and for spreading the QAnon conspiracy theory, which was born during the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump.

Broadly speaking, QAnon alleges that the world is governed by a group of satanic pedophiles who, in addition to having a worldwide child sex trafficking network, aim to conspire against Trump. The theory assures that within this group are personalities such as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Tom Hanks, Ellen DeGeneres, and Pope Francis, among others.

Read also: "Barbie" Review: Did it Live Up to the High Expectations It Set?

The fact that the film is based on the story of a personality who openly spreads these theories was suspicious to many people, but to others, Ballard is seen as a savior figure. In addition, the film has religious overtones (Ballard is an avid Mormon) that hint at persuasive intentions about not only how child sexual exploitation is wrong but how it should be solved.

Child abuse and human trafficking are indefensible crimes. We all know that it is atrocious and should be denounced. This idea created divided opinions about the film, generating a lengthy discussion on social networks.

In Defense and Against the Film

On the one hand, some defend the film tooth and nail. They argue that Ballard is a figure to be looked up to and that the film shows a harsh and harsh reality that should be made visible. Many applaud its religious overtones, the slogan "God's children are not for sale," and Verástegui, a well-known pro-life, anti-euthanasia, and anti-equal marriage activist, is one of its protagonists and its producer. In addition, the film's plot glimpses of anti-vaccine theories show pedophile leaders as influential leftists. This image has also been embraced by one of the film's most prominent supporters, Donald Trump himself.

On the other hand, strong critics find it irresponsible to use child trafficking as an excuse to promote conspiracy theories while propagandizing the U.S. ultra-right. They consider it a way to misinform and can have significant consequences on diagnosing a substantial social problem in Latin America, implying that the actions taken against it are also incorrect. They also criticize the idealization of the figure of Ballard, who, as we have already said, broadcasted raids putting the identity and privacy of the victims and their families at risk.

Undoubtedly, regardless of its purpose, "Sound of Freedom" managed to get people talking and positioned itself as one of the most relevant films of the moment.