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A group of 17 Native Americans of the Ramapough Lunaape Nation Tribe in New York and New Jersey are suing Relativity Media, the producers of the Christian Bale film Out of the Furnace, over the depiction of the tribe in the film. They claim the film is defamatory and has caused embarrassment for their tribe.
The film features Casey Affleck playing Bale’s younger brother, who gets drawn into a criminal gang by Woody Harrelson’s character, Harlan De Groat.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the group is called the “Jackson Whites” and members are referred to as “inbreds.”
Ramapough officials have called Out of the Furnace, written and directed by Scott Cooper, a “hate crime,” while Relativity Media has noted that it is completely fictional. According to TheWrap, Cooper did say it was based on some personal experiences. Cooper, along with his co-writer, Brad Inglesby, are named as defendants. Producers Appian Way, Energy Entertainment, Scott Free, and Red Granite Pictures are also defendants in the suit, as is distributor Relativity.
Eight of the plaintiffs have DeGroat as their last name, while two others have Van Dunk as a last name, which is also used in the film. They are seeking damages in excess of $150,000, but were not more specific than that.
“Historically, the Ramapough Lunaape people were referred to locally as ‘Jackson Whites,’ a derogatory term with various origins ascribed to it, none of them complimentary,” the lawsuit claims. “The people of the Ramapough Lunaape Nation have historically been widely discriminated against in educational opportunity, employment and other matters, and are regarded as ‘inbred’ among their surrounding populations and communities.”
The plaintiffs want a jury trial.
A Relativity rep said that they have not fully reviewed the lawsuit and could not comment yet.
Out of the Furnace opened on Dec. 4 and while it did earn decent reviews, it has only earned $10.9 million so far.