U.S. Southern Command nixed two scheduled on-base showings of the popular film “Sound Of Freedom” until further notice due to potential copyright issues, according to screenshots of emails obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
U.S. Army Garrison-Miami and SOUTHCOM invited members of the local military community to attend the free screenings planned for Aug. 28 and Oct. 19, according to an email flyer and first reported by Military Times. The flyer said the thriller, which depicts a rescue operation of a semi-vigilante anti-human trafficking organization, would be 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.”
“Both showings are postponed until further notice. Specific Department of Defense regulatory procedures for screening intellectual property are in place to prevent the appearance of copyright infringement,” a follow-up email obtained by the DCNF stated. “Further vetting” would be required before the Army garrison could proceed with the screenings. (RELATED: State Department ‘Lacks Knowledge’ Needed To Most Effectively Fight Child Trafficking, Report Finds)
However, the email announcing the event had been put off “encouraged” the local military personnel and families to view the film at nearby theaters still offering showings.
“The movie’s central theme and its connection to SOUTHCOM’s AOR and our Human Rights Office (HRO) Combatting Trafficking in Persons (CTIP) program are inescapable and will serve to raise awareness of the prevalence of trafficking in human persons and sexual abuse and exploitation within our area of responsibility,” the email added.
The original invitation included a caveat that “The showing of this film does not imply or constitute endorsement by the U.S. Army nor SOUTHCOM.”
Critics have accused lead actor Jim Caviezel of espousing ideas aligned with the QAnon conspiracy in promotional events for the movie, according to NPR. Detractors have also claimed that alleged misrepresentations of human trafficking in the film undermine its attempts to bring awareness to the issue.
However, there was no indication that such criticisms contributed to the postponement of the free screening.
A spokesperson for SOUTHCOM justified the initial plans to Military Times. The film depicted themes that are essential to SOUTHCOM’s mission, which is heavily focused on disrupting transnational criminal organizations that often deal in trafficking of persons, as well protecting human rights.
“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,” spokesman Jose Ruiz told the outlet. “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.
SOUTHCOM did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated after the Daily Caller News Foundation received the emails in question. The story reflects the fact that it does not appear that criticisms of “Sound of Freedom” influenced SOUTHCOM’s decision.
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