U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) canceled on-base showings of the film “Sound of Freedom” because the plans accidentally violated a Department of Defense (DOD) regulation, and the command does not plan to reschedule the showings, a spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
In August, SOUTHCOM nixed two free showings at U.S. Army Garrison Miami of the movie, which depicts anti-child sex trafficking operations in areas within SOUTHCOM’s responsibility, according to screenshots of emails obtained by the DCNF. The showings had been planned for Aug. 28 and Oct. 19. SOUTHCOM initially said “copyright issues” required the base to cancel the showings.
But SOUTHCOM unknowingly violated the Army’s own rules when initially reaching out to the film’s creator, Angel Studios, for a copy of the film, Army Col. Emanuel Ortiz, a SOUTHCOM spokesperson, told the DCNF on Tuesday. (RELATED: General Milley Weighs In On Possible US Military Intervention At The Southern Border)
In soliciting the film, the command violated a regulation that states only a separate DOD organization, the Army and Air Force Exchange Services (AAFES), is allowed to obtain movies from distributors for showing on Army, Air Force or Space Force garrisons, Ortiz said. (AAFES has sponsored free showings of feature films in the past, including a May showing of the superhero flick “The Flash” at five military bases, a DOD media release shows.)
“When we reached out directly to Angel Studios, seeking to obtain a copy of the film for a free screening, we did so outside of this regulatory requirement,” Ortiz said.
“To avoid establishing a legally unsupportable precedent and ensure compliance with the guidelines outlined in the aforementioned regulations, we have decided to cancel both showings and will not schedule screenings of theater-released or platform-hosted films,” he added.
“Sound of Freedom” played at AAFES-operated theaters on Army and Air Force installations beginning in early August, Julie Mitchell, AAFES vice president for marketing, explained to the DCNF on Wednesday. But AAFES does not operate a theater at U.S. Army Garrison Miami, she said.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida sent a letter to SOUTHCOM on Sept. 13 expressing his concern “with regard to the cancellation of two planned showings of ‘Sound of Freedom’” and urging SOUTHCOM to move ahead with the screenings.
“While reporting suggests that SOUTHCOM unexpectedly cancelled the movie due to concerns about ‘copyright infringement,’ I am aware that its producers and the studio have communicated that this is not an impediment for the movie to be shown at SOUTHCOM to service members and their families,” Rubio said in his letter. “As such, since the concern which led to the cancellation has now been addressed, I urge you to rectify this situation and ensure that the screenings of the film be rescheduled without delay,” Rubio said.
“As the producers and distributors of ‘Sound of Freedom’ have consented to screening the movie at SOUTHCOM, there is no issue with copyright infringement claims,” Rubio wrote.
SOUTHCOM had encouraged families to see the film at local theaters, the emails announcing the cancellation showed.
However, Angel Studios’ agreement to allow the film’s showing does not change the fact that SOUTHCOM acted outside its own regulations, Ortiz explained.
Angel Studios did reach out to AAFES about showing the film at SOUTHCOM installations in July, and AAFES “did not object,” Mitchell told the DCNF.
“The command’s decision to cancel the movie screening at its headquarters does not impede other available access to the film. This decision does not, in any way, reflect or imply an official opinion or viewpoint regarding the film or its production studio,” Ortiz told the DCNF.
“We encourage any film studio interested in proposing a future film screening to do so by contacting AAFES,” Ortiz said.
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