It might be the highest grossing independent film of the year, but Sound of Freedom almost didn’t see the light of day thanks to big Hollywood studios trying to prevent it from coming out – and now its director and producer are calling out woke Hollywood on their years-long fight to bring their movie to light.
The action thriller, starring The Passion of The Christ actor Jim Caviezel, follows a former US government agent who embarks on a mission to rescue children from sex traffickers in Colombia.
Directed and co-written by Alejandro Monteverde and produced by Eduardo Verástegui, the crowdfunded movie was kept out of theaters for nearly a decade by studio executives who didn’t agree with the beliefs and politics of its creators.
Following its long-awaited release, the film is now being described as ‘faith-based’, a label that both Alejandro and Eduardo fiercely reject – even going as far as to say that pigeonholing their project in such a way is ‘dangerous’.
Epic battle: Director Alejandro Gomez Monteverde and producer Eduardo Verastegui, pictured here in 2008, fought for years to get their film Sound of Freedom picked up by the studios
‘I have no idea why they label the film faith-based,’ Alejandro exclusively told DailyMail.com. Typically, faith-based films are either overtly religious or are pedaled by faith-based communities.
‘It’s like why all of a sudden do they say, “Oh, that’s a label.” In almost every movie there is a mention of God and those movies aren’t labeled faith-based.’
Going forward, Alejandro hopes that labelling films doesn’t stick.
‘I just hope that we change the status of society, and we don’t continue to put a label into people. It’s like for the police or movies, you don’t say, “Oh that chef, they’re Christian so, his hamburgers are Christian burgers.”
‘For me, I, I’m a filmmaker. I love making movies. I love cinema and I’m always looking for stories to tell, powerful stories, I don’t make movies for a group. I make movies for everybody.
‘And I try to always start from an objective point to view. My goal is to be objective, to make films. I’m never looking to give answers. I’m looking for answers.
‘I’m always looking to propose a question. And when the movie ends, I want people to leave and to create their own answers. So that’s all I want. I always, always like to propose a theme, never to impose a theme.’
Eduardo agreed, adding that the faith-based label doesn’t sit well with him.
Baffled: The collaborators have voiced confusion over the film being branded ‘faith-based’
Huge hit: Surprise hit film Sound of Freedom portrays a true story of child exploitation
Lead star: Passion of the Christ actor Jim Caviezel helms the movie and plays Tim Ballard, a former U.S. government agent who embarks on a mission to rescue children from sex traffickers in Colombia
‘It really hurts me when somebody just comes and labels it and like, “Whoa man, it took me so long to balance it out.”
‘I’m very confused why they need to say this is a faith-based film. It’s just a label that doesn’t match the film. Just very, very, very odd.
‘I made another movie called Little Boy and one of my main characters says in the film, “I’m more interested in the will of man than the will of God.” He’s one of the heroes. And they still label the film faith-based.
‘This is a danger. And from there, it’s been that labeling issue. But everybody has their thing and people have freedom to say whatever they want.’
Still, the ‘faith-based’ label doesn’t appear to have done the movie any harm at the box office – quite the opposite in fact.
At the time of writing, Sound of Freedom has grossed over $155million despite its miniscule budget of just $14.5million, comfortably outpacing pricey blockbusters like Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny and Tom Cruise’s new Mission: Impossible in single-day ticket sales.
But the journey to international blockbuster hit was a difficult one, and producer Eduardo exclusively revealed to DailyMail.com how Hollywood relentlessly tried to gatekeep it.
‘I was hoping to finish the film and find a decent distribution deal with someone, and then Covid hit,’ he said.
‘At that time, I made a deal with Fox Colombia when the script was finished and it was a great deal, it was a documentary for Discovery Channel, I believe.
‘The person who was in charge of Fox, Latin America, was very passionate about raising awareness about this problem because he knew about these countries, Colombia, and Mexico. He knew that this was real, and it was happening. But then Disney bought Fox, and all the people in Fox left.
‘So now I’m in Disney and we showed them the film and they told me, this film is not for us.’
Eventually, Eduardo took the film out of Disney and began knocking on the doors with Netflix and Amazon but had no luck.
‘They passed,’ he recalled. ‘And then other studios as well. I knew that I had two options: Give up and put the film on YouTube for free, or don’t give up and fight hard to save children.’
Eduardo admitted he was stubborn and wanted desperately to get the movie out, so toured it around Mexico, Spain, and in London.
‘I saw people standing up clapping, some others crying, some others quiet,’ he remembered. ‘So, after you show the movie to 50,000 people all over the country, and you see the reaction, I knew I had something special.’
And that’s when Eduardo’s luck with gaining a distributor started to change. ‘I got a phone call from someone in Provo in Utah,’ he said.
‘I had never heard of that town in my life before. They said they were Angel Studios and they were really interested [in the movie].
‘I went to Provo and met with them and I’m like, ‘Wow man, these guys are amazing’ but I didn’t know if they had the infrastructure.’
‘They said to me, ‘We are all you have, and we believe in your movie. Give us a chance. Give us an opportunity.’ I signed the contract with them and shook hands.’
After years struggling to find a distributor, thanks to countless rejections, Sound of Freedom was finally released on July 4 by Angel Studios and quickly became a box office hit.
Donald Trump with Tim Ballard (middle) and Jim Caviezel (right) at a screening of the film ‘Sound of Freedom’ on July 19, 2023 in New Jersey
Eduardo admitted that he was worried he would be left humiliated though because his $14million budget film Sound of Freedom was sandwiched between big budget films like Indiana Jones and the Dial Of Destiny and Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.
But he needn’t have fretted.
Weighing in on the film’s box office success, Eduardo admitted that he never imagined it would take off on such a monumental scale.
‘I just can’t believe that we beat Indiana Jones with 2000 theaters, less than them with less budget, with less infrastructure, with less power with less, less, less, less,’ he said.
‘I never imagined… I mean I’m still hugging the American dream because this is for me, the American dream. I lived the American dream. I witnessed American dream. I moved to this country, and I didn’t speak English 20 years ago.
‘I made a commitment and I made a promise that I will only work in films that will have the potential to make a difference in people’s lives. It took 20 years after two movies to be here and to live this dream.’
‘We owe this success to the audience,’ director Alejandro added. ‘What what’s been just great is just the support of the audience. But still right now the movie’s out and you hear all these challenges that continue on happening, but we’re still pushing, we’re still in the middle of the race.’
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