MIAMI, Florida — As "Sound of Freedom" hits theaters next Tuesday with a bold message calling for the freedom of millions of children enslaved in human trafficking, the filmmakers are not only using their talents in Hollywood but potentially in politics as well.
Director and co-writer Alejandro Monteverde told The Christian Post that he felt "called" by God to make "Sound of Freedom" following the success of his films "Little Boy" and "Bella."
"Today is one of the most important days of my life, and I'm so grateful," Monteverde said in a red-carpet interview.
"There are two types of stories, the ones that I want to make and the ones that I was called to make and this one I was called to make."
At the premiere of "Sound of Freedom," Monteverde openly encouraged his friend, actor and Mexican film producer Eduardo Verástegui to "run for president" of Mexico to ensure a lasting impact on the fight against trafficking.
Reports have emerged in recent years suggesting the actor is discerning a potential presidential run. Earlier this month, Verástegui asked for prayers as he has to make a decision about a possible 2024 presidential run "very soon."
Shot five years ago, the movie tells the true story of one man's journey to combat child sex trafficking. The Angel Studios film is based on the life of Tim Ballard, a former U.S. Department of Homeland Security agent who left his job because he wanted to do more to rescue children from modern-day slavery.
Starring Jim Caviezel ("Passion of The Christ"), the dramatic thriller film also features Oscar winner Mira Sorvino ("The Final Cut"), Bill Camp ("12 Years a Slave") and José Zúñiga ("Twilight"). Along with acting in the film, Verástegui ("Unplanned") is the film's producer.
Verástegui and Monteverde have been friends since they were teenagers, and for the past eight years, the pair have worked diligently with Ballard to bring his mission to combat child sex trafficking to the forefront for the masses to become aware.
The filmmaking team, both men of faith, believe in the film tagline "God's children are not for sale" and want millions to mobilize after watching the film. They hope the story will compel others to help bring an end to this form of child abuse.
"Sound of Freedom" will have viewers at the edge of their seats waiting to see what Ballard does next on his mission to reunite a vulnerable family whose worst nightmare came to life when both children were taken captive for sex work. Featuring mild foul language and some violence, the film's scenes that are not shown but suggested have a haunting effect on audiences.
The studio wants families with teenagers to view the film together since teenagers should also be educated on the evils of the world that they can fall victim to.
Monteverde told CP that he takes what Jesus said to His disciples seriously in Luke 17:1-2, "It is inevitable that stumbling blocks will come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him to have a millstone hung around his neck and to be thrown into the sea than to cause one of these little ones to stumble."
According to a report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released in January, Mexico "ranks first in child sexual abuse; first in exploitation, homicides, and trafficking of minors; and first in creation and distribution of child pornography."
The United States was identified as the "number one consumer of sex worldwide," which includes child pornography, according to Geoff Rogers, co-founder of the United States Institute Against Human Trafficking, as quoted in a 2019 Fox News report.
Verástegui previously shared with CP that he wants to "put pressure on the government so these things become a prime priority, not just for the government, for everyone."
"What really hurts me the most is that the people who are doing this to these kids are human beings like you and me, made of the same. This is not people who are coming from other planets that are our enemies. This is people like us. So in what moment, what happened to these guys?" Verástegui continued. "They were kids at some point full of dreams. So what happened in what moment they decided to, 'You know what? I'm going to use my life to hurt kids.'"
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime defines human trafficking as any situation in which someone experiences "force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or giving payments or benefits to a person in control."
New York actor Manny Perez, who plays one of the traffickers in the film, described "feeling dirty" following his role because of how different his character was from who he is as a man of faith. Perez felt this was an important role for him to take on and bring awareness to a hard reality that exists.
The filmmakers, actors and Angel Studios hope at least 2 million people will go to theaters on July 4 to represent the 2 million children currently victimized by human trafficking.
Multiple Hollywood studios rejected the film, but Angel Studios acquired worldwide distribution rights earlier this year.
Angel Studios is a platform for filmmakers to collaborate with the audience and bring projects to life by crowdfunding. It creates and distributes films and TV series worldwide and is known as the studio behind "The Chosen" and "Dry Bar Comedy."
To spread the word, Angel Studios set up a "Pay It Forward" program where someone could pay for someone else's ticket who might not otherwise see "Sound of Freedom."
Jeannie Ortega Law is a reporter for The Christian Post. Reach her at: email@example.com She's also the author of the book, What Is Happening to Me? How to Defeat Your Unseen Enemy Follow her on Twitter: @jlawcp Facebook: JeannieOMusic