It may be the highest-grossing independent film of the year, but Sound of Freedom barely saw the light of day thanks to big Hollywood studios trying to stop it from being released, and now its director and producer are calling on Hollywood to wake up. his years-long struggle to get his film out there.
The action thriller, starring 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 film was kept out of theaters for nearly a decade by studio executives who disagreed with its creators’ beliefs and policies.
After its long-awaited release, the film is now described as ‘faith-based’, a label that both Alejandro and Eduardo fiercely reject, going so far as to say that pigeonholing their project in this way is ‘dangerous’.
Epic battle: Director Alejandro Gómez Monteverde and producer Eduardo Verastegui, pictured here in 2008, fought for years to get studios to pick up their film Sound of Freedom
“I have no idea why they label the film faith-based,” Alejandro exclusively told DailyMail.com. Typically, faith-based movies are overtly religious or driven by faith-based communities.
‘It’s like why all of a sudden they say, “Oh, that’s a label.” In almost every movie God is mentioned and those movies are not labeled as faith based.
In the future, Alejandro hopes that film tagging will not stick.
“I just hope we change the state of society and stop putting a label on people. It’s like for the police or the movies, you don’t say, “Oh, that chef, they’re Christian, so their burgers are Christian burgers.”
‘For me, I, am a filmmaker. I love making movies. I love movies and I’m always looking for stories to tell, powerful stories, I don’t make movies for a group. I make movies for everyone.
‘And I always try to start from an objective point of view. My goal is to be objective, to make movies. I never seek to give answers. I’m looking for answers.
I’m always looking to pose a question. And when the movie is over, I want people to go away and create their own responses. So that’s all I want. I always, always like to propose a theme, never impose a theme.’
Eduardo agreed, adding that the faith-based label doesn’t sit well with him.
Baffled: Contributors have expressed confusion about the film qualifying as ‘faith-based’
Big Hit: Surprise Hit Movie Sound of Freedom Portrays True Story of Child Exploitation
Main Star: Passion of the Christ actor Jim Caviezel directs the film and plays Tim Ballard, a former US government agent who embarks on a mission to rescue children from sex traffickers in Colombia.
“It really hurts me when someone comes up and tags it and says, ‘Wow, it took me so long to balance it.'”
“I am very confused why they need to say that this is a faith-based movie. It’s just a tag that doesn’t match the movie. Just very, very, very strange.
“I did another movie called Little Boy and one of my main characters says in the movie, ‘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 movie based on the faith.
This is a danger. And from there, it’s been that labeling problem. But each one has his own and people are free to say what they want.’
Still, the ‘faith-based’ tag doesn’t seem to have done the film any harm at the box office – quite the opposite, in fact.
As of this writing, Sound of Freedom has grossed over $155 million despite its minuscule budget of just $14.5 million, handily beating out pricey blockbusters like Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny and Tom’s new Mission: Impossible. Cruise on single-day ticket sales.
But the journey to international blockbuster was rocky, and producer Eduardo exclusively revealed to DailyMail.com how Hollywood relentlessly tried to keep it going.
“I was hoping to finish the movie 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 big deal, it was a documentary for the Discovery Channel, I think.
‘The person who was in charge of Fox, Latin America, was very passionate about raising awareness about this issue because he knew about these countries, Colombia and Mexico. He knew that this was real and that it was happening. But then Disney bought Fox and all the Fox people left.
“So now I’m at Disney and we showed them the movie and they said, this movie is not for us.”
Eventually, Eduardo pulled the movie from Disney and started knocking on doors with Netflix and Amazon, but had no luck.
“They passed,” he recalled. ‘And then other studies as well. I knew I had two choices: give up and put the movie on YouTube for free, or not give up and fight hard to save the children.’
Eduardo admitted that he was stubborn and desperately wanted to get the film out, so he toured Mexico, Spain and London.
“I saw people standing up clapping, some crying, some quiet,” he recalled. “So after showing the film to 50,000 people across the country and seeing the reaction, I knew I had something special.”
And that’s when Eduardo’s luck in getting a distributor began 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 said, ‘Wow, these guys are amazing,’ but I didn’t know if they had the infrastructure.”
‘They told me: ‘We are all you have and we believe in your film.’ Give us a chance. Give us a chance. I signed the contract with them and shook their hands.
After years of 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 success.
Donald Trump with Tim Ballard (center) 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 about being left humiliated because his $14 million budget film Sound of Freedom was sandwiched between big-budget movies like Indiana Jones and the Dial Of Destiny and Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.
But he needn’t have worried.
Commenting 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 we’ve beaten Indiana Jones with 2,000 theaters, fewer 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 embracing the American dream because this is for me, the American dream. I lived the American dream. I witnessed the American dream. I moved to this country and did not speak English 20 years ago.
“I made the commitment and promised that I would only work on films that have the potential to make a difference in people’s lives. It took me 20 years after two movies to be here and live this dream.’
“We owe this success to the audience,” added director Alejandro. ‘What’s been great is just the support from the audience. But still, right now, the movie is out and you hear all these challenges that continue to occur, but we’re still pushing, we’re still in the middle of the race.