The producers of a film about an underground fighting ring in New Jersey mountains say the film is not based on the Ramapough Lenape Indian nation.
However, after watching an advanced screening of the film in NYC Wednesday night, Mahwah Mayor Bill Laforet said he disagrees.
“I have a commitment to the people of Mahwah...to seek the truth about this. So, I went to [Manhattan] to see this movie,” Laforet told Patch Wednesday night.
“After seeing it, there is no doubt in my mind that this movie is based on the Ramapough people of Mahwah,” Laforet said. “And, they are depicted in the film in a really negative way.”
The Relativity spokesperson said the story is fictional.
“As is the case with most films, the filmmakers conducted research and drew upon their own personal life experiences in creating an original screenplay, and the story and the characters are entirely fictional.”
But Laforet claims references in the film to the Ramapo Mountains, "the Ramapos," the Bergen County Police, and other local landmarks and cultural aspects, "make it clear what this is trying to do."
These statements come hours after leaders in Mahwah held a press conference speaking out against a New York Post article claiming that the movie was based upon the Ramapough Lenape Nation, and characterizing members of the tribe as “New Jersey hillbillies.”
Ramapough Chief Dwaine Perry, Laforet, and Superintendent of Schools Lauren Schoen spoke out at the conference against the language used in the review, and insisted that the community is unified, and proud of its diverse make-up.
At the time of the press conference, all three said they had not yet seen the film, which is set to be released Friday. But, they said their comments were made in an attempt to be proactive and protective of the Ramapough community and the greater Mahwah community.
Representatives from the NY Post have not responded to a request for comment.