How the thriller “Sound of Freedom” became a standard for conspiracy theorists on pedophile networks

After having accumulated, this summer, 185 million dollars (171

How the thriller “Sound of Freedom” became a standard for conspiracy theorists on pedophile networks

After having accumulated, this summer, 185 million dollars (171.7 million euros) in revenue in the United States for a production budget of just over 14 million, the film Sound of Freedom, by Alejandro Monteverde, is released Wednesday November 15 in France.

This thriller on the trafficking of minors was enthusiastically awaited by part of the conservative right and conspiracy circles. For others, it is seen as a worrying marker of the contamination of the Western imagination by a vision of pedophilia that is at once religious, caricatured and far from reality.

Is this a realistic film?

Sound of Freedom tells the story of the fight of Tim Ballard, an American special agent played by actor Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ, Person of Interest). After saving a young Mexican from a child trafficking network, he leaves his position to try to find and free the latter's sister.

It is a fiction inspired by real events. Organized child crime is a sinister reality: the Interpol database lists 14,500 child criminals and 32,700 minor victims of sexual exploitation across sixty-eight countries.

Tim Ballard is a bona fide human rights activist, best known for founding Operation Underground Railroad (OUR), a non-profit organization specializing in infiltrating pedophile rings in Latin America and the United States in 2013. Caribbean. The film recounts his first operation, his infiltration of the Colombian mafia, in 2013, albeit in a fictionalized manner.

Its distributor in France emphasizes that the director has “taken liberties in the representation of the different methods of child trafficking”, for example by showing minors detained in containers, or authentic images of children kidnapped in the street, which “ do not represent the majority cases”. In France, a third of perpetrators of sexual violence against minors are themselves under 18 years old, and in 95% of cases, the perpetrator is a family member or close friend.

Why is the film so divisive?

The film is centered around the OUR organization, which defends a "punching" vision of the fight against pedophilia, very popular with the American conservative right, made up of hidden camera infiltration of organized networks and attacks. 'outburst filmed. Sound of Freedom was thus, on several occasions and before its release, the honors of Real America’s Voice, a Trumpist online television channel. In France, it is highlighted by sites located far to the right of the political spectrum, such as the conservative radio station Sud Radio, the France-Soir site and Le Media en 4-4-2, close to certain “yellow vests”.

But OUR doesn’t just have admirers. The organization has been accused of misrepresentation in the past and even has "a long history of making false claims," ​​says Vice. His vigilante methods – alternating undercover infiltration and muscular intervention – are sometimes considered abrupt and approximate, even “disturbingly amateurish”. “The problem is that it is very risky for the victims,” warned Anne Gallagher, UN founder of the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Human Trafficking, in 2016. She also regrets that their spectacular interventions are not accompanied by any follow-up of the victims: “They come in and they leave. They have no way of tracking victims, no way of assessing the impact of what they do. »

Where does the connection with conspiracy theories come from?

Sound of Freedom is not inherently a conspiracy film. But it is carried by a casting sensitive to this type of rhetoric. The main actor, Jim Caviezel, is an ardent conspiracy theorist, who believes that US President Joe Biden is in the hands of “puppet masters”, in this case the “central banks”, an allusion to anti-Semitic accusations against the Rothschild dynasty .

Above all, the actor took advantage of the promotion of the film to accuse American intelligence agencies of covering up pedophile networks and to take up the theory of adrenochrome, a fictitious drug which would be created using children's blood, which he had already mentioned in 2021 during a meeting of QAnon conspiracy theorists in Oklahoma. More broadly, since 2016, the American conspiracy right has become convinced that the Democratic Party is at the head of a pedophile network. She soaked up rumors as macabre as they were grotesque, such as that of a tunnel under New York sheltering tens of thousands of captured children; furniture supplies serving as supposed code names for minors sold on the Internet; or even paedosatanist elites drinking the blood of children to concoct adrenochrome, a substance that would make people rejuvenate.

More recently, conspiracy theorists say they are convinced that the earthquakes in Grindavik (Iceland) are due to movements in the Dumbs (Deep Underground Military Bases), supposed to shelter kidnapped children.

Who is distributing the film in France?

Distribution is carried out by the company Saje distribution, founded in 2012, specializing in what the Americans call “faith based movies”. It is directed by Hubert de Torcy, a member of the conservative Catholic community of Emmanuel, who was also responsible in 2023 for Vaincre ou mort, the film on the Vendée rebellion produced by Puy du Fou, Sacerdoce, a documentary by Damien Boyer, Unplanned, on abortion, or season 3 of The Chosen, the previous ones of which were broadcast on C8, the channel owned by Vincent Bolloré.

When Sound of Freedom was released in the United States in July, French conspiracy circles exchanged pirated versions, in English or Spanish, and were upset about its non-distribution in France, which they interpreted as a sign that he “disturbs in high places” and “worries the pedophile elites.” Ultimately, there was no cabal to prohibit the release of the film, which even benefited from a preview, covered by France-Soir, Le Media en 4-4-2 and Info Chrétienne. In total, Sound of Freedom was released in 226 theaters across France. According to findings from Le Monde, it is mainly programmed in suburbs and outlying towns.