The School Newspaper of Cherry Hill High School East


The School Newspaper of Cherry Hill High School East


The School Newspaper of Cherry Hill High School East


“Sound of Freedom” stirs up controversy in Hollywood

Courtesy of IMDb
The Sound of Freedom marked great controversy in Hollywood.

Human trafficking is no doubt a pressing issue globally, however, it’s often not talked about due to its dreadfulness and weight. To start this conversation and bring awareness, Alejandro Monteverde directed Sound of Freedom. Released on July 4, 2023, and based on a true story, Sound of Freedom tells the story of Tim Ballard, a former Special Agent for the Department of Homeland Security and founder of Operation Underground Railroad (OUR), working to rescue victims of child sex trafficking and catch perpetrators. Although this movie aims to shine a light on a grave issue, it’s been heavily criticized for the misinformation it spreads and the individuals it promotes.


Sound of Freedom takes numerous creative liberties in its portrayal of events, which Angel Studios confirms. Although the film accurately depicts some real events, such as Ballard’s work to reunite siblings who were victims of child trafficking and Ballard’s journey to Cartagena, Columbia to save children that were sex trafficked, known as Operation Triple Take, the movie also includes many inaccuracies that shape Ballard into a savior. For example, Sound of Freedom displays Ballard going into a jungle alone to find a child, but he actually had a team behind him to help locate this victim. The movie also shows Ballard killing a predator to protect a child being sex trafficked, which did not occur in real life. These creative liberties impact audiences’ ideas of Ballard, giving false perceptions of the work that he does.


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Sound of Freedom also misrepresents what child trafficking typically looks like. The movie plays a montage of traffickers taking children off of the street and kidnapping them. However, it fails to acknowledge that in most trafficking situations, the victims know or trust their perpetrators. Moreover, by not depicting any of the recovery processes for child trafficking victims, the film does not fully express the dangerous ramifications of trafficking.


In addition to spreading misinformation, Sound of Freedom has been criticized for giving a platform to OUR, which, according to Vice, is an untrustworthy organization. In a Vice article, Anna Merlan and Tim Marchman bring attention to many claims OUR has made that are either untruthful or have little evidence behind them. For instance, they state that OUR takes credit for helping a victim, Liliana, escape her trafficking ring, but according to her testimony, she escaped independently. Merlan and Marchman also question OUR’s funding.


“Millions of dollars are going into the organization, flying out of the pocketbooks of devoted supporters who ardently and sincerely want to rescue the world’s most vulnerable and endangered children. But it’s largely unclear what the organization is doing with that money, and where it is clear, it’s not obvious that what it’s doing is effective,” they write.


Sound of Freedom not only bolsters OUR, but, as critics have also pointed out, it involves individuals who are associated with QAnon, a far-right conspiracy that Hollywood elites are running a child sex trafficking ring. Jim Caviezel and Tim Ballard have been linked to this conspiracy through their comments on interviews, podcasts, and speeches, such as Caviezel’s speech “The Storm is Upon Us,” a common QAnon saying.


Despite the misinformation, the groups associated with the film, and the lack of mainstream promotion, Sound of Freedom has done surprisingly well at the box office. The movie has made over $100 million, which may be partially attributed to Angel Studio’s Pay it Forward campaign. Pay it Forward allows audiences to pay for movie tickets for people who would not have been able to watch the movie. Essentially, Angel Studios increases its revenue instead of encouraging audiences to donate to organizations that fight human trafficking. 


While it’s imperative that we spread awareness about child sex trafficking, Sound of Freedom seems to go about it the wrong way. By providing accurate information about real warning signs, common trafficking scenarios, and legitimate organizations that fight trafficking, we can be better equipped to put an end to this heinous crime.

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About the Contributor
Michelle Bookbinder
Michelle Bookbinder, Eastside Community Editor
Michelle Bookbinder is a junior and a Community Print Editor for Eastside. She’s also a member of FOP, Interact, French Club, and Women’s Shelter Support Club. Outside of school, Michelle can be found dancing or blasting music on a road trip with the windows down. Michelle can’t wait for another great year on the Editorial Board!

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