The Niagara Independent, July 21, 2023 – It is a summer scorcher: Sound of Freedom. One doesn’t have a pulse if unmoved by this “must-see” film. The movie deals with the uncomfortably disturbing subject matter of child sex trafficking for prostitution and pornography. Yet, it is not subject matter as it is the political spin that certain groups put on the production that is making it notorious. In the last couple of weeks, Canadians have been spellbound by the movie and they have also been witness to its politics.
From the business side of it, Sound of Freedom is a remarkable success. The American Christian movie production and distribution company, Angel Studio, made the film with a budget of $14.5 million. Industry news magazine Variety reports that the movie earned more than $32 million over the American Independence Day week. It crowd-funded another $24.7 million from its audience that week. Then on the July 15-16 weekend the film registered a surprising 37 per cent rise in the box office compared to the first weekend. It has now grossed over $85 million (not including the crowd funding).
Sound of Freedom is a tension-filled psychological and action flick. It is based on real life events of a former agent for the American Department of Homeland Security. Lead actor Jim Caviezel portrays Tim Ballard, a man haunted by the horrors he has witnessed in his job investigating human-trafficking. The story centres on Ballard’s determined commitment to reunite two Honduran children with their father. The audience is taken on this quest as the children are first kidnapped, transported by shipping container to Columbia, groomed, and sold into a pedophile sex trafficking network.
One of the most thoughtful reviews of the movie was Walker Larson’s critique, “But maybe the film’s greatest strength is its careful handling of such difficult material and its ability to inspire… The movie doesn’t shy away from the darkness and difficulty of the subject matter… We come close enough to it to see the reality in all its bare and brazen horror… Yet, at the same time, the film does not wallow in the muck, and it is far from despairing. It keeps hope and beauty and heroism alive.”
A core facet of the film is its religious overtures, providing enduring hope that light can shine through the darkest of evils. Many times, characters assert “God’s children are not for sale” and, at critical moments, Tim Ballard recounts the scripture: “Better a millstone be hung around their necks that they be cast into the sea that they should ever hurt one of these little ones.” In one of the most introspective scenes of the movie Ballard is moved by Vampiro, a compatriot in the rescuing of children, when he confesses, “When God tells you what to do … you cannot hesitate.”
This and more is reflected on by Dr. Jordan Peterson in a poignant interview with both Jim Caviezel and Tim Ballard. They discuss the nature of good and evil and faith in God in the podcast The Fight Against Worldwide Child Slavery and the Sex Trade.
It is all weighty stuff and, with the release of the movie, Canadians are awakened to the realities of human trafficking and the horrors of child sex crimes. Lee Harding, reporter for The Epoch Times, interviewed former Winnipeg MP Joy Smith who in 2014 was responsible for spearheading legislation entitled Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act. The bill passed parliament and made purchasing of sex a criminal offence for buyers, not those providing the sex – often the victims.
Joy Smith also started a foundation to specifically address human trafficking – an effort that in a dozen years of operation has helped more than 7,000 cases of exploitation. Smith states, “This was a great movie, and you could apply it to Canada any single day.” She confided in the interview, “I liked it very much because it was very real and very true… I get a flashback of things I’ve seen, things I think I’ve tried to forget.”
“… there’s so many victims out there, so it takes a nation to stop human trafficking. People should become educated about it, to prevent this from happening in the first place, because after it happens, it takes years and years and years and years of rehabilitation.”
Lee Harding also connected with Cathy Peters, an anti-human trafficking advocate in Vancouver, who explained that recent trends in Canada have child traffickers targeting children as young as 10. She claims, “Schools really have become recruiting grounds for gangs and for human trafficking, and I don’t think Canadians are aware of that.”
Peters is troubled with the nature of the crime and prevalence in the country, “Sexual violence [is] the deepest and worst form of trauma a human being can experience. That is why that movie is so powerful because it gets that message across of the harm—the deep, deep, debilitating harm that is caused by the abuse of children.”
Given the gravity of the issue and the fact that human trafficking and child sex exploitation are a concern in Canada, it is wholly tone-deaf that the country’s state-owned national media organization — CBC — would want to denigrate the film and its Christian overtones. In a CBC Radio segment reviewing Sound of Freedom, Radheyan Simonpillai was provocatively insulting in dismissing the film as a “dog-whistle” for “xenophobic, pro-Trump, pro-Life types.”
Simonpillai backhanded both the film along as well as the hundreds of thousands of concerned Canadians who have seen the film. He said, “We can’t say that the movie itself is made by QAnon types. But certainly, their political goals make it something that QAnon conspiracy theorists would rally behind. Just like racists rallied behind Trump without him having to say anything overtly racist.”
This CBC insolence echoed a number of other derogatory critiques from U.S. and British progressives who went out of their way to politicize the movie and denigrate its audiences. For example, Mile Klee of Rolling Stone went as far as to pen an op-ed titled “‘Sound Of Freedom’ Is a Superhero Movie for Dads With Brainworms.”
Yet, these insults are a silencing tactic, a page torn directly from the progressives’ playbook: how to label and shame people and ideas with the objective of squelching and devaluing the message and, ultimately, cancelling the opponent. In Canada, leave it to the CBC to overlay their biased political lens on as serious subject as child sex trafficking. (More next week regarding the current fixation of the CBC as well as the Trudeau government on the politics of youth and sex.)
Still, the fact is human trafficking, child grooming, and sex abuse and slavery are real things. Today, Tim Ballard manages an organization Operation Underground Railroad that is committed to fighting the crimes of human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children. His organization cites sobering statistics:
- 70 million files of child pornography existed in 2019 – 78 per cent involving children under 12.
- Sex trafficking is the most common exploitation of victims in the United States. In other countries, victims are often forced into domestic servitude, migrant labor, sex-tourism, military operations, sweatshops, and street begging. When the person’s earning potential declines, their organs may be harvested for sale.
- 40.3 million persons are trafficked globally today – 10 million of those persons are children.
- “At any given time, there are an estimated 750,000 child predators online – and they all have a key to your house via the Internet.” (FBI)
To reiterate Joy Smith’s statement: “…it takes a nation to stop human trafficking. People should become educated about it…”
Photo credit: Angel Studios