FALSE: Mel Gibson made a film about the international system of child trafficking

FALSE: Mel Gibson made a film about the international system of child trafficking

31 July 2023
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Verification within Meta’s Third-Party Fact-Checking Program

Information is spreading on the network that Mel Gibson allegedly made the film “The Sound of Freedom” about the international organized system of child trafficking.

However, Mel Gibson did not shoot it. The screenwriter and director of the film is Alejandro Monteverde.

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This fake has already been refuted by independent American fact-checkers from the Associated Press. They reached out to the actor’s agent for comment, who said Mel Gibson has not made any movies about child trafficking.

The original source of disinformation was probably an interview with Tim Ballard, the prototype of the main character of the film “The Sound of Freedom”. During the “Utah Eagle Forum” conference, he noted that Gibson helped him financially to start filming the Ukrainian rescue operation. However, we are talking about the filming of an operation to save orphans in Ukraine, and not the filming of the film “The Sound of Freedom”. He also noted that Gibson helped edit “The Sound of Freedom”.

In a comment to the Associated Press, Ballard did not retract his words, but admitted that the actor did not participate in the creation of the tape. Open sources also reveal that Mel Gibson is not part of the film’s creative or acting team.

The film “The Sound of Freedom” was shot in 2018 mainly with the funds of Mexican investors. Its screenwriter and director, Alejandro Monteverde, hails from Mexico. Initially, the studio “Fox Latin America” was engaged in the release of the film, but it abandoned the project after the studio was acquired by the company “Disney” in 2019. Later, the company “Angel Studios” took over the distribution of the film. They develop their projects through crowdfunding, that is, voluntary contributions from interested people. In total, the company has attracted about $5 million from thousands of “angel investors”, each of whom receives a share of the income from the project.

The plot of the film is based on the story of the rescue operation of Tim Ballard and his organization Operation Underground Railroad (OUR) in Colombia. Ballard claims to have worked as an agent for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to prosecute human traffickers and combat child sexual abuse. He is currently a member of the Mormon Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Earlier, cooperating with the police, together with his organization, he caught child traffickers around the world. In July 2023, it became known that Ballard left its composition.

OUR says it is actively cooperating with local police. However, a VICE World News investigation focused on the activities of the OUR revealed a gap between the facts and the claimed successes. For example, court records showed that the organization played a much smaller role in an anti-trafficking case in New York than it had been told. Law enforcement agencies describe their interaction as “insignificant”. Ballard is also a frequent guest on Fox News and previously served on the Federal Advisory Panel on Human Trafficking under the Trump presidency.

Despite the frequent references to “The Sound of Freedom” as a “documentary”, it is not. The OUR organization itself notes that they added a number of fictional events to the film, such as Ballard killing a man to save a child and his independent journey into the jungle. They also admit that the filmed story is hyperbolized. For example, cases involving the transportation of children in transport containers are extremely rare.

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The authors do not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have no relevant affiliations