Sound of Freedom Movie Controversy & Filmmakers Allegations Explained

By Savannah Sanders Posted:
Sound of Freedom

Sound of Freedom, the surprise box office hit of the summer, is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video and reigniting prior controversies. 

Starring Passion of the Christ's Jim Caviezel, Sound of Freedom follows Tim Ballard, a real-life former special agent and founder of Operation Underground Railroad (OUR), who embarks on a rogue mission to rescue children from sex traffickers in Columbia.   

The faith-based thriller from Angel Studios stunned the industry with its box office performance in July. But in addition to producing ticket sales, Sound of Freedom also generated considerable backlash. 

Explaining Sound of Freedom's Controversies

Accuracy in Portrayal of Child Trafficking

Some experts suggested that Sound of Freedom's depiction of sex trafficking is inaccurate and sensationalized. 

According to Erin Albright, a former fellow for the Department of Justice's anti-trafficking task force, the film is “grounded in this sensational perspective of what child trafficking would be," such as in showing children being snatched from the street. 

In reality, many children who are trafficked often know their traffickers, such as in the case of family members exploiting children due to property or drug use. In addition, a majority of trafficked children are adolescents or teenagers due to homelessness, rejection or abandonment, and/or a trafficker portraying themselves as a boyfriend or girlfriend.

The problem with portraying trafficking as dramatic events at the hands of strangers affects how the public views the crime. This leads society to fail to recognize it when it happens, especially since many child victims wouldn't even identify themselves as having been trafficked. 

However, while the movie's portrayal may contribute to the problem of recognizing trafficking, it's important to note that the events shown in Sound of Freedom can and do happen.

Supported by Conspiracy Theorists

Much of the controversy surrounding Sound of Freedom stems from its far-wing support, including the fringe conspiracy group QAnon and the theory of a global sex trafficking ring run by the world elites who are also united in a plot against former United States President Donald Trump. 

But despite Sound of Freedom's public praise for right-wing politicians, including former President Donald Trump himself, the movie never refers to QAnon or the conspiracy theory.

In fact, in an interview shared via Time, Angel Studios' CEO denied the film's political or conspiratorial messages:

“Anybody who watches this film knows that this film is not about conspiracy theories. It’s not about politics.”

Sound of Freedom director Alejandro Monteverde has also denied the film's QAnon connections to Variety, referring to the press backlash as "all wrong" and "heartbreaking:"

"I was like really sick. I was like, ‘This is all wrong. That’s not true.’ It was heartbreaking when I saw all this polemic and all this controversy going on."

But part of what fueled the film's controversial fires was Sound of Freedom star Jim Caviezel and Tim Ballard, the film's inspiration, who allegedly made QAnon references or showed support. 

Addressing his actor's beliefs and position, Montverde explained to Variety, "what they do on the free time, I can't control:"

"Look, when you hire people, what they do on the free time, I can’t control. I was a director. I wrote the screenplay. I hired the actor I thought was the best for this film."

In a July 2023 interview, Caviezel claimed he "never knew" about QAnon while filming Sound of Freedom, and Tim Ballard has denied any links to the group. 

Allegations Toward Filmmakers/Creators

Following the film's release, several allegations have been made against its creators, producers, and most notably, Tim Ballard. 

While Ballard separated himself from QAnon connections, he has since faced allegations of sexual assault and misconduct during OUR missions and was removed as the director of the organization. He has also been ex-communicated by the Mormon church. 

In addition, Paul Hutchinson, a producer for Sound of Freedom and an OUR operative, was accused of groping an underage girl. Film funder Fabian Marta was also accused of child kidnapping.  

The latter charges have been dropped and deemed a family misunderstanding. 

Sound of Freedom's Streaming Future

There are multiple conversations surrounding Sound of Freedom; now that the film is available to stream, that's only likely to continue. 

Still, Sound of Freedom now has the chance to be viewed by at-home audiences who know little about it or its criticisms. And that's likely what Alejandro Monteverde has been waiting for, especially since that's not the film's focus nor did he anticipate politics would hijack the movie's reception

What the film won't escape is Tim Ballard's record and reputation. And, since these allegations and his removal from his organization are relatively new, more news is likely on the way. 

But apart from poor decisions, conspiracies, and politics, the critique concerning Sound of Freedom's depiction of trafficking isn't something audiences should be aware of but all of Hollywood.

If anything good came from the surprise summer blockbuster's backlash, perhaps future movies will take note of how to educate audiences and, just like the film's focus, save lives. 

Sound of Freedom is available now on Amazon Prime Video.

- About The Author: Savannah Sanders
Savannah Sanders joined The Direct as a writer in 2020. In addition to writing for The Direct's Star Wars, Marvel, and DC teams, Savannah specializes in the relationship between Disney's blockbuster franchises and the Disney Parks.