Producers Deny ‘Out of the Furnace’ Based on Ramapoughs, Mayor Disagrees

UPDATE: After viewing it, Mahwah mayor says he believes the new movie is based on the Ramapough Lenape Indians.

'Out of the Furnace' movie poster. Credit: Relativity Media/Moviefone.
'Out of the Furnace' movie poster. Credit: Relativity Media/Moviefone.

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.

Out of the Furnace is not based upon any particular person or group of people,” a spokesperson for Relativity Media, the company that produced the film, told Patch Wednesday evening.

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.

Carolyn Suffern December 06, 2013 at 11:31 AM
Well said, Gottardo DiGiacopo
robert allen de groat December 06, 2013 at 04:54 PM
Hi tracy, i am one of the ramapough people and with all due respect i ask you what makes you call our people hillbillies though i have nothing against them. The other thing that i,d like to ask you is why do you bring yourself into something that does,nt consern you. Our people have been bad mouthed by many folks who don,t even know us. We dont cry racism, we cry leave us alone. We had terrible things said about us from the film makers and others in the past. I think we are the ones who should be sick of this
Carol De Groat December 06, 2013 at 06:01 PM
Dear Tracy Miller, I am very upset by your ignorant comments which proves that you know knowing about the Ramapough People, because if you did you would have never made the comments. So let me inform you that we Ramapough live and function in society just like everyone else, some of us have College Degrees and are Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers, etc. just like the rest of society. Some of us are white collar workers and some of us are blue collar workers, and we all pay taxes and contribute to the economy of the US just like the rest of society, so whatever edge of society you consider that to be, then I guess you, the Ramapough and everyone else is living on the same edge of society. We are tired of people like you constantly demeaning us when you know nothing about us, and we are a different generation than our ancestors that were afraid to speak out. We will continue to speak against people like you and nothing you say will stop us, so you can't be any more tired and sick of us as we are tired and sick of people like. All the other people that made intelligent and compassionate comments, the Ramapough People and I thank you for your understanding and compassion.
Cheryl Chirichello December 07, 2013 at 12:12 AM
If you watch the movie, it's got the Name DeGroat and it does say Ramapo People, In breads of NJ and drug addiction, alcoholism and the fighting, unfort all societies carry skeletons in their closets but this movie did not show nor bring up Ramapo Indians, there are Hillbillies on the appellation trail and ramapo mountains that go deeper then the towns and Indians, I think it's more based on something in that aspect of hillbillies, DeGroat is not just a name for the Ramapo Indians it was also from white settlers which can be part of those mountains and if you walk the application trail and you lean a little about the history there are dangerous hillbillies in the mountains and near the trails and have nothing to do with the Indians and still be called Ramapo. I think it just hits a nerve due to the name and unfort some of the bad situations that happen with the Indians in the area but I think what they are doing is stirring up media for the movie and may be making themselves look bad directing the comments to themselves instead of the Hillbillies aspects. NO THE RAMAP INDIANS ARE NOT HILLBILLIES, some people need to get off their lazy asses and learn more before opening their mouths, but unfort the word Ramapo and Degroat is what is going to start the BS.
Cheryl Chirichello December 07, 2013 at 12:15 AM
Ramapo Indians then you have the Ramapo Hillbillies it's based on the hillbillies not the Indian mixes, watched the movie, DeGroat was a white Hillbillies in the Movie and in short I think it's based on the white settles history not necessarily the Indians....THE MOVIE WAS INTENSELY BORING LET IT DIE OUT
Andy Schmidt December 07, 2013 at 12:23 AM
Cheryl - have you ever looked at the cast list? Those acting as extras in these scenes are all labeled "Jackson Whites". The setting is in Bergen County (which is why you see a Bergen County Police officer), NOT Passaic Cty or someplace in NY. You can pretend all you want. The movie is using every available clue (including the last names used) to imply to the viewer precisely ONE neighborhood in Bergen County -- and it's NOT the Garden State Plaza or Alpine...
Andy Schmidt December 07, 2013 at 12:47 AM
Cheryl - you DO realize that it was THIS article in the NY Pest that sparked the initial outcry about the misconceptions this movie evidently is solidifying in some: http://nypost.com/2013/11/30/new-movie-lifts-curtain-on-njs-ramapough-mountain-people/ In the first few lines it squarely names Stag Hill and then rattles off a whole bunch of stereotypes... I'm deeply embarassed that a major publication (no matter how low-class) in THIS area in the 21st centy can broadly claim that so many individuals, representing various levels of talent, profession and social status can all be seen as "one" entity with identical characteristics. I expect every OTHER neighborhood to have their share of crooks - even as posh as Upper Saddle River... In fact, I wonder where the conviction rate is higher!
John P. D'Angelo December 07, 2013 at 07:52 AM
Carol, No one coould have said it any better. I have been a resident of Mahwah for 45 years and knew and made it a point to learn the history of the Ramapo people. What I found was it is a history to be preserved with no ignorant insinuations.
Carol De Groat December 07, 2013 at 08:11 AM
Thank Andy Schmidt for your comments to Cheryl, I could not have stated it better. Yes is was the NY Post article and also the IndieWire Blog article that offended us. Apparently Cheryl does not know that if you combine the surnames De Groat and Van Dunk, and also add the slanderous "Jackson Whites" term into a movie, article or whatever you are referring to the Ramapough Lunaape Indians. Yes we have bad apples among our people, but don't every segment of society? As the saying goes "one bad apples does not spoil the whole bunch". John, thank you for your comments and I commend you for taking the time to learn our history, I wish that more people would do the same.
Jonathan N. Marcus December 07, 2013 at 08:45 AM
The story about the outrage over this piece of trash film has just made The Drudge Report. That means it has now gone viral on the web and has national attention! Glad to see that the media is helping to spread the word about the outrage over this.
Ynot December 07, 2013 at 09:50 AM
Jonathan, I just looked at the Drudge Report. Thank you for that. History has a natural bias towards the oppressor (The easiest example to understand being that of severe oppression or genocide in which the victims have not survived to tell their story). Thus too often only the story of the perpetrator is heard. An unbiased review of history requires the inclusion of the story of all of the victims of oppression in an incident. It was good to read the Drudge Report because it helped removed the bias of the Hollywood film promoters, and provided the story of those who in this case are being victimized. While this story may not be as severe as the cases we usually think of, it is important to the lives of those who must live the narrative. Nice catch on the Drudge Report.
Ynot December 07, 2013 at 10:02 AM
I am going to add one sentence, because upon thought the Ramapo people may be the primary victim. But untruths in the movie to some degree, greater or lesser, include all of the people of the region. Thus there are many who may be affected.
JG407 December 07, 2013 at 01:18 PM
If you are integrated into society why do you live on a mountain amongst each other and only have 4 last names?
Gottardo DiGiacopo December 07, 2013 at 04:02 PM
JG407 (i like your curious name) Would it be okay if 'they' (many of whom have also shared their lovely names and thoughts, with courage) answered: Because we are happy here, because my family and friends are here, because i feel safe here, because i'm afraid to go, because i can't afford less, or more? Would it be okay for them having all the same reasons that you would answer as to why you are where you are and why your name is your name? Or was your question rhetorical with an answer you believe you already possess and that i'm completely missing?
JG407 December 07, 2013 at 05:03 PM
You may live where ever you like, but I wish you would stop denying that there is no truth to the stories of what goes on up on the mountain. Are we supposed to believe that the residents of the mountain are welcoming to outsiders? That there is no intimidation whatsoever?
John P. D'Angelo December 07, 2013 at 05:08 PM
Gottardo DiGiacopo December 07, 2013 at 05:31 PM
JG, i read an analogous early post of yours that said something about the word "Bus" being offensive to "Blacks"; it made me laugh out loud and i decided you were reasonable and with humor. now i'm kinda stumped by this backwards slide. i try but i can't get a make on these vague angers. i ask you: Who's an 'outsider'? Are the 'stories' stories? Could you tell me one you were in? Were you 'intimidated' by a person(s) or by a story(ies). we've been here 20 years and have not heard stories or experienced bad things. My kids have grown with their kids. We are neighbors. i am different than you; i am not your enemy nor am i inspired to welcome you. Does that make me them. i'm okay if you think it does.
Andy Schmidt December 07, 2013 at 05:32 PM
JG - I can't speak for everyone elses feelings based on them believing old-wife's tales. From my REAL-LIFE experience I can certainly state that I have never felt intimidated the few times I drove the neighborhood roads for some errand - and also never whenever I occasionally spent hours walking that section of the mountains (all by myself). I've run into neighborhood residents in town, either as part of someone's job as the DPW, or because they volunteer in the emergency services. I've run into residents because our kids are on the same sports teams and attend the same schools. (In fact, months or years can pass before I happen to learn someone's street address by coincidence - so would it make me feel any different once I do realize the neighborhood someone's from?). They are just regular parents with regular kids, having a varity of talents, abilities - and flaws - like EVERYONE else! Are the residents WELCOMING? Frankly, I can't remember biking through any other neighborhood in any of the surrounding towns and ANYONE welcoming me!? If I'm lucky someone cutting the grass may acknowledge me with a nod - but that's the exception - most of the time people keep to themselves no matter WHERE I go. If anything I'm more intimidated by some the nouveau-rich in their Panamera, engaged in cell phone conversation with their hair stylist, who are likely to run me off the road because their sense of entitlement allows them to first pass me at high speed, before in suddenly making a last-second right turn inches from my face. You may have different first-hand experiences... But I don't give a rat's behind about second-hand stories that have been rehashed for years, distorted with each new retelling..
JG407 December 07, 2013 at 09:08 PM
I attended the Mahwah schools so yes I have first hand experience with the intimidation. I have traveled up the mountain once or twice and what I did see was scary, stray dogs running around beat up homes and cars, etc. My point is very valid. Why are there all these "wives tales" as you call them if there's no validity to them. I've spoken to several people who have gone up there and have been threatened by the residents. Perhaps your experience differs from theirs or mine. I am entitled to an opinion nonetheless.
Ynot December 07, 2013 at 09:17 PM
JG, I lived most of my life in Mahwah also. My experience is that the children were very well-behaved in the schools. If anything they suffered some teasing which should have been stopped. I don't know what planet you are living on, but my memories are of shy young children wanting to go to school. Learning is crucial to survival. It is very cruel to inhibit a child's learning as it will influence the rest of their life. Also, please have some manners.
Ynot December 07, 2013 at 09:29 PM
Andy, a national bicycle route is to take Spook Hollow Road and just freelance ride the back roads to rt. 306 in Pomona, and then cross Rt. 202 onto Leytontown Rd. Make a left onto Call Hollow Road and follow it to the top of the mountain and then all the way down. Beautiful ride. If you have the energy make a left on Willow Grove Road up the mountain and it will take you into a back entrance into Harriman State Park near Lake Welch. It is about 15 miles to Leytontown Road. Some of the people in the back roads of Rockland will occasionally smile and say hi to you!
Andy Schmidt December 07, 2013 at 10:49 PM
JG, of coures you (as everyone) is entitled to your opinion. It's just helpful for others when they can qualify your opinion, because it is based solely on the first-hand experience of a student being afraid of stray dogs... and of heresay (your believe in stories related by others). It's a sad indictment of the Mahwah school system if you truly maintain that something clearly must be true simply because it's been repeated often/long enough? Time to go back to Philosophy 101 and learn about concepts of "truth"!
Gottardo DiGiacopo December 08, 2013 at 08:29 AM
JG when did you go to high school? i went from 74-78. i knew some kids like that who were trying to realize some power. i was more afraid of the rich Jocks that wanted to beat my ass; they were scarier from my perspective. Was there ever a white kid you knew that bullied? As for the picture you described, it sounds like something i've seen many times growing up like an area near 'the projects' in my home town where all the whites threw out garbage that they didn't want to pay to have removed... you know like shitty couches and dead refrigerators.
JP December 08, 2013 at 12:24 PM
In a way, the release of this movie may actually help improve the situation because many more people are now talking and debating the ugly discrimination that's been going on all this time and hopefully it'll be a step toward eliminating it by getting the real facts out in the open. If this movie goes to the Oscars (which it looks like it is), that would be the perfect national platform to present opposing views.
robert allen de groat December 09, 2013 at 08:30 AM
I would like to say THANKYOU, to Carol De GROAT, ANDY SCHMIDT and JONATHAN MARCUS for which i feel are inteligent and compasionate people who see the truth and don,t mind speaking it. There are people who don,t see it that way because of there fears or lack of the real history of our people. Well shame on them as well as the directors and producers of that make believe movie ( out of the furnace). There are some wonderful actors in the movie and i believe that had they been told up front what the movie was really about, they probably would have opted out . They have nothing against us. Thanks again to the 3 mentioned people in the comments
Carolyn Suffern December 09, 2013 at 11:42 AM
I watched this film this weekend in Knoxville, TN, where I live. Undoubtedly, I was the only person there who knew of the turmoil this movie has created. As I ponder this violent movie, I can only wonder WHO really is behind it? NO ONE just stumbled into "Ramapough/DeGroat/Bergen County! There is nothing redeeming about this film. My heart aches for the emotional pain this film has dredged up for many. I also watched many tributes to Nelson Mandela this weekend. It is my great hope the Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation moves forward with quiet dignity like Mandela's to find the day of redemption and adulation that was his. Walk tall. Walk proud my Ramapough friends!
robert allen de groat December 09, 2013 at 12:52 PM
Thank you so. much Carolyn Suffern, We, the elders, endured this for years and just when we thought that our children and grand children would be exempt from it, It appears we are wrong. I wouldnt do this to an enemy. Thanks again Carolyn we appreciate it.
Carolyn Suffern December 09, 2013 at 01:52 PM
Mr. De Groat, You are most welcome. Sadly, I have heard from a number of your tribal members tales of what I thought were the horrors of old, but now these horrors are resurrected. Living with racism like this leaves emotional scars that never truly go away. Now these scars are torn wide open as the Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation comes under this brutal attack. A friend of mine tells me "The wheels of justice grind slowly, but the grind exceedingly fine!" I hope the wheels of justice grind very, very fine against all associated with this sickening movie!
Richard Levine December 31, 2013 at 08:18 AM
CUNY constitutional lawyer provides opinion on the lawsuit against the producer at: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/conlaw/ Although I have not seen the movie, and notwithstanding anything it may have said or did not say it appears from the reviews and trailers that it is a piece of junk with no redeeming social value.
Richard Levine December 31, 2013 at 10:58 AM
http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/conlaw/2013/12/out-of-the-furnance-and-into-the-first-amendment.html This is a correction to the link I gave above. I wrote to the CUNY law professor to obtain this correction.


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