Sound of Freedom director says QAnon criticisms about the film are ‘heartbreaking’: ‘It hurts me’

Sleeper hit has become a favourite among prominent right-wing figures including Donald Trump

Tom Murray
Tuesday 15 August 2023 06:33 BST
Sound of Freedom trailer

Sound of Freedom director Alejandro Monteverde has broken his silence following the widespread controversy surrounding the sleeper hit.

The film is purported to be based on real events, starring The Passion of the Christ actor Jim Caviezel as a former federal agent embarking on a mission to rescue children from sex traffickers in Colombia. The lead role is inspired by anti-human trafficking activist Tim Ballard, whose story has been questioned by researchers since 2020.

While promoting the film, Caviezel has shared QAnon-supported conspiracy theories suggesting that Ballard was “saving children” from “adrenochroming” – whereby traffickers drain children’s blood to harvest a life-enhancing substance called adrenochrome.

The film quickly earned support from right-wing figures such as Donald Trump and Steve Bannon.

Speaking to Variety and the Los Angeles Times for the first time since criticisms arose against the film, Monteverde said suggestions that the film propounded QAnon theories was “heartbreaking”.

“I was like really sick. I was like, ‘This is all wrong. That’s not true,’” he told Variety of the negative press.

“Look, when you hire people, what they do in their free time, I can’t control,” he said of Caviezel’s comments. “Everybody’s entitled to [speak their mind]. Now, on this particular film, yes, it did hurt my work. And that’s why I’m here talking now instead of secluding myself.”

Jim Caviezel in controversial sleeper hit ‘Sound of Freedom’

“The minute they started labelling it with conspiracy theories, it discredits the purity of the work,” he added in his interview with the LA Times.

The film came to fruition after distributor Angel Studios launched a crowdfunder in order to earn enough money to market the film.

In just two weeks, the crowdfunder – endorsed by Caviezel’s Passion of the Christ director Mel Gibson – succeeded in amassing the studios’ goal of $5m (£3.8m), which was donated by 7,000 people.

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The film went on to become a sleeper hit, earning $172m (£136m) at the box office.

At the end of the film, Caviezel performs a piece to camera, asking viewers to scan a code on the screen to pay it forward by purchasing more tickets to the film.

The film became a subject of right-wing conspiracy theories when viewers recorded themselves in largely empty theatres, theorising their ideological enemies were trying to stop people from seeing the movie. In reality, many of the empty seats had been purchased through the app Pay It Forward but had not been taken up by cinemagoers.

“There’s people that are too close to the film that are in politics,” Monteverde said of Caviezel and Ballard, who attended Trump’s screening of the film in July. “So it’s like, I love you, but I have to keep my distance.”

Earlier this month, one of the film’s investors was charged with accessory to child kidnapping, according to police.

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