By Catherine Yang
“Sound of Freedom” actor Jim Caviezel went on Fox and Friends Thursday to promote his new film, praising former President Donald Trump in the process.
On the topic of child trafficking, Mr. Caviezel said, “We’ve got to do a lot more,” and added that “We’ve got to start with Donald Trump.”
Mr. Caviezel elaborated that Mr. Trump needed to be back in the White House, “because he’s going to go after the traffickers.”
“This is the new Moses,” said “The Passion of the Christ” star, quipping, “I’m still Jesus, but he’s the new Moses: Pharaoh, let my children go free.”
Mr. Caviezel and producer Eduardo Verástegui had screened the film for Mr. Trump the day before at his private golf resort in New Jersey, which the presidential candidate said was “an incredible inspiration.”
“Jim, that was unbelievable. What a job,” he said, telling Mr.Verástegui, “You made this the hottest movie anywhere in the world.”
“I just want to thank you all. That was unbelievable acting, and Tim [Ballard], what an incredible job you did. Somebody’s got to do it, and you did, you did,” he said.
“That was a great movie, and I now understand why it’s doing so well, it’s setting records, by the way, it’s beating the biggest movies out, some of the biggest summer blockbusters, it’s knocking their socks off,” he said. “I’d love to have your potential!”
Mr. Trump further joined Mr. Ballard on his podcast after the screening.
The announcement for the screening also mentioned Mr. Trump’s record on human trafficking issues, such as a 2020 executive order to eliminate human trafficking and online child exploitation, and assist victims. It added that he was “prepared to bring the full force and weight of our government to end human trafficking.”
Summer’s Breakout Film
In two weeks, the film has crossed the $100 million mark domestically.
“Sound of Freedom” hit the big screen on July 4, and grossed $41.7 million in its first week, taking the top spot and beating out the latest “Indiana Jones” film which opened on June 30 at $11.7 million.
“For some reason, that Fourth of July thing was really important,” Mr. Caviezel said in a recent interview with EpochTV’s “American Thought Leaders.”
“And really it is: Can we give these children back their freedom on our Independence Day?”
The film was shot in 2018 and took five years to release as studio after studio shelved it. Mr. Verastagui was able to buy the film back with the help of food giant Goya Foods Bob Unanue, and Angel Studio, which employs a crowdfunding model, was able to pick it up for distribution.
“This movie has now taken on a life of its own to become something more than that, a grassroots movement,” stated Angel Studios CEO Neal Harmon after the big weekend. Influential supporters of the film have not only encouraged others to see the film, but purchased tickets en masse for future viewers.
“Sound of Freedom” is based on real events; Mr. Caviezel plays Mr. Ballard, a Homeland Security agent who rescues a young boy from traffickers in the film, only to learn the boy’s sister is still captive. He risks his job, and life, to save the girl.
In real life, Mr. Ballard later left his Homeland Security job to found Operation Underground Railroad (OUR), a non-profit organization that works with law enforcement to rescue children from exploitation and helps survivors recover.
While OUR works primarily in countries like Ecuador, Mexico, and Ukraine—places of instability where children are vulnerable to trafficking—this exploitation is in large part fueled by a growing U.S. customer base, Mr. Ballard said on American Thought Leaders.
“The big numbers: $150 billion a year are made off the backs of men, women, and children as slaves,” Ballard said, noting that some 27 million people around the world live in slavery, with 6 million of those being children.
“It’s estimated that 2 million of those children are specifically designated for the commercial sex trade,” the former federal agent continued. “The United States is number three for destination countries for human trafficking, number one the consumption of child rape videos, and we are now approaching number one in production of child exploitation material.”
Mr. Caviezel, who has never shied away from difficult topics in his quest to draw uncomfortable truths into the light, said “Sound of Freedom” was his most important film since “The Passion of the Christ.”
“When you walk out of there, you won’t get up just like you did on ‘The Passion of the Christ’ or on ‘Schindler’s List,’” the actor added. “And the difference between ‘Schindler’s List’ and this film is that ‘Schindler’s List’ was 50 years too late. We’re doing this right now during the time. And this is a huge weapon against the evil.”
The surge of popularity was soon met with a surge of criticism, with several reviews claiming the film was linked to QAnon and conspiracy theories.
Mr. Trump’s team referenced these claims in their screening announcement.
“Liberal media outlets like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and The Hollywood Reporter have refused to review the film, while publications like Rolling Stone, Washington Post, CNN, and The Guardian have trashed the film and mocked the millions of movie-goers who purchased tickets to screenings,” the announcement reads.
The Rolling Stone’s review included the subtitle “The QAnon-tinged thriller about child-trafficking is designed to appeal to the conscience of a conspiracy-addled boomer.” New York Times called it a “film embraced by both mainstream conservatives and far-right QAnon believers.”
The reviews did not slow the movie’s popularity—the team set out to sell 2 million tickets, representing the 2 million children trafficked every year, and it has now hit 10 million.