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12 September, 2023

Film Review: Sound of Freedom

Film Review: Sound of Freedom

“Then I realised I was the sadness in her eyes”

In this scene Vampiro, a former money launderer for the cartels, turned rescuer of children trapped in the sex trafficking industry recalls the moment he realised he had become a perpetrator.

Sound of Freedom chronicles the true story of Tim Ballard, a Homeland Security agent who, leaves US soil to take the fight to traffickers at source, and to rescue children.

The film has been surrounded by controversy, having become a weapon in the culture wars but I would highly recommend you take the time to see it for yourself.

Here’s why.

1. It highlights the reality of one of the most pernicious and profitable forms of modern day slavery. The business model of traffickers relies on targeting vulnerable children: While a bag of cocaine can only be used once, a trafficked child can, tragically, be exchanged multiple times, and sold 5-10 times a day.

2. It’s not just ‘over there’. The film explores how demand often originates in the West, and how online exploitation evolves and is directly linked to kidnapping, promises of a better life for children and families, and the trafficking of children across multiple state borders.

I watched Sound of Freedom alongside two friends. One who, having visited the IJM office in Phnom Penh came home only to experience a trafficking raid in her street, and the other who runs Restore, an anti-trafficking project based in Hastings. The film explores well how it’s closer than we think.

3. The film is hopeful. When considering issues of largescale corruption and injustice it’s easy to despair, or to be blinded by complexity. Taken at face value this film tells a story. A story not just of rescue for hundreds of children, but also (however imperfectly) of law enforcement and justice systems working together to investigate criminality, apprehend those responsible and prosecute to the full extent of the law.

The black and white real-life footage interwoven with the film reminded me of sitting at IJM HQ watching moving CCTV images recorded just weeks before by undercover investigators in the Philippines. In the video in front of me girls aged 5-10 were dancing to a familiar pop song as they were paraded in front of customers. Each were rescued in a raid the following morning, but, the investigator told me, the apprehension of the traffickers and brothel owners represented the rescue of hundreds more potential victims.

What next?

When you leave the cinema, tell your friends but, perhaps more crucially, find out more about International Justice Mission. This film cracks open the door on the world of child trafficking. IJM is established, active and immersed in tackling modern day slavery by bringing rescue and crucially by prosecuting traffickers and abusers all over the world.

Click here to find out more about supporting the work of IJM today.

Find out about local showings of Sound of Freedom here.

12 September, 2023

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