Hannah Jones and her family made cedar rope bracelets for the cast and crew of ‘Never Let Go’Photo courtesy of Hannah Jones

Award-winning filmmaker from Lil’wat Nation, Hannah Jones, brought her skills to the set of Never Let Go recently. The American survival horror movie stars Halle Berry and will be released in September.

The Capilano University student recently scooped the prize for Best Student Film at the Shakti Film Festival in Vancouver. Jones previously told Pique she would like to see her movies on the big screen so more people can learn about her community’s history and culture. She started working as a production assistant on the movie, which was filmed in Coquitlam, during the last week of school in April 2023.

“I got to work wherever they needed me,” she said. “I worked in a lot of different departments. I got to work in the production office, costume, locations, accounting and even helped with wardrobe on set. I got to meet a lot of really cool people.”

Jones said she’s proud to represent her community and to blaze a trail for younger people to follow.

“I was one of two Indigenous people on set. I hope that number will grow soon,” she said. “There were some moments where I wished I had some of my people there.”

Jones was not able to reveal much about the highly anticipated movie set in the woods, but hinted it’s definitely a flick to keep an eye on.

“The movie is a psychological thriller,” she said. “As an evil takes over the world beyond their front doorstep, the only protection for a mother and her twin sons is their house and their family’s protective bond. They need to stay connected at all times, even tethering themselves with ropes. They cling to one another, urging each other to ‘never let go.’”

The young Lil’wat woman was inspired by the incredible work ethic of Berry, who became the first Black woman to win the Oscar for Best Actress in 2002. Jones even received a signed bottle of champagne from Berry.

“Watching her do her thing as this strong woman character was mesmerizing,” said Jones. “I was in awe every time I saw her.”

Jones had a chance to bring a piece of her unique culture to the city when her production manager asked for crew gift ideas.

“He didn’t want to give the basic T-shirt with the title of the film on it,” she said. “He asked me if I had any more ideas that were more authentic and that could include the forest. The film is set in the woods.”

The perfect idea immediately dawned on Jones.

“I told him that we could gift them cedar rope bracelets. These bracelets are a small example of how the Lil’wat people used to make ropes,” she said. “It fits because in the film they use rope as a survival tool against evil in their world. It was such a perfect fit that he let me take control over it.”

Jones biggest supporter, her mom, Lucinda Jones Gabriel, immediately got to work on the project. The kind-hearted mother, volunteer and powwow organizer better known as “CinaMon” sadly passed away in April. “I told my mom about it and she said she would love to make them. She prepped the cedar and made about 50,” said Jones. “I believe she got my dad and two brothers to help make them.”

Jones was later told the crew needed more than 200 more cedar rope bracelets. She worked tirelessly to complete the rest in her office. The bracelets said, “thank you for your hard work” in Ucwalmícwts.

“I tried to search online for the correct phrasing, but I couldn’t find it so I just went with my gut,” said Jones. “It was a lot of fun making them.”

The bracelets prompted a lot of questions about the Lil’wat Nation, which Jones was delighted to answer.

“Everyone loved them. They asked lots of questions and showed a great deal of interest,” she said. “I was proud to have been able to show some Indigenous culture to part of a world who don’t know much about it.”

The movie’s premiere will be a bittersweet moment for the young Lil’wat trailblazer.

“As soon as I heard when the movie was going to come out, I told [mom] and she was so excited. She wanted to see my name on the big screen,” Jones said. “Unfortunately, with her recent passing, I won’t be able to watch it with her. I know she would have had had a big celebration and would have told everyone about it.

“I miss her support so much. She believed that my name would be up there and now it is. I just hope I continue to make her proud. She always called me the ‘rez kid with a dream.’”

By Roisin Cullen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 02, 2024 at 09:15

This item reprinted with permission from   Pique Newsmagazine   Whistler, British Columbia
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