U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) canceled two screenings at its headquarters in Doral, Florida, of “Sound of Freedom,” the popular anti-sex-trafficking movie that has made roughly $200 million worldwide so far this summer.
According to an email flyer from Joanne B. Fitzgerald, U.S. Army Garrison-Miami manager, that was obtained by Military Times, the two free screenings of “Sound of Freedom” were originally scheduled to take place Aug. 28 and Oct. 19.
The flyer invited all local personnel to attend the screening at SOUTHCOM’s headquarters, noting that the film was being shown in “support of SOUTHCOM’s mission to promote respect for human rights and combating trafficking in persons in Central and South America and the Caribbean.”
The invitation by SOUTHCOM clarified that the two film screenings did not “imply or constitute endorsement by the U.S. Army nor SOUTHCOM.”
However, after initially scheduling the two screenings of “Sound of Freedom,” SOUTHCOM canceled the event in order to “prevent the appearance of copyright infringement.” While the two screenings were canceled, SOUTHCOM announced that the film starring popular Christian actor Jim Caviezel was “available to view at local theaters.”
SOUTHCOM provided The Hill with an additional statement, claiming that the two screenings of the anti-sex-trafficking movie were canceled after the military reviewed “applicable laws and regulations governing the use of materials subject to copyright and intellectual property laws for official or recreational purposes.”
“Insofar as the film is concerned, following this review, a determination was made to cancel the screenings,” Army Col. Emanuel Ortiz told The Hill. “Individuals interested in viewing the film can still do so at a local theater of their choosing. The now-canceled screening was intended to help raise awareness of the nexus between [transnational criminal organizations] and human rights abuses they frequently commit as part of their human smuggling activities.”
While Military Times reported that the initial planning of the two screenings led to backlash due to claims that the events portrayed in “Sound of Freedom” are connected to QAnon conspiracy theories and concerns that the screenings would go against the military’s policies of service members remaining apolitical, SOUTHCOM spokesman Jose Ruiz explained that the movie’s main theme of fighting human trafficking is closely aligned with the mission of SOUTHCOM.
“The subject of the movie is something that’s of great concern to the command, in that it follows as part of its mission of countering transnational criminal organizations,” Ruiz said. “Because of the way these transnational criminal organizations exploit migrants — the hopes of migrants — in ways that end up being serious violations to their human rights, and unfortunately in some cases lead to the deaths of the migrants.”