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Photo-montage by Mark Rappaport

This week, along with many others, I received a notice from Mark Rappaport detailing circumstances involving elements of his work – specifically DigiBeta tapes of his work, along with papers and such items, which he’d left with Ray Carney, Boston University Professor, Cassavetes expert, and enthusiastic promoter of so-called “independent film.”   I’ve known Mark since the 70’s, and also have known Carney for some time.  Here’s the notice:

CARNEY INTERNET LETTER 2ND VERSION

AN OPEN LETTER FROM MARK RAPPAPORT TO THE INTERNATIONAL FILM COMMUNITY
September 2012

To all filmmakers, film critics, film archivists, film academics, curators, festival directors, and film enthusiasts everywhere—
I am writing to you because something very unforeseen, very unexpected, and most unpleasant recently happened in my life,
When I moved to Paris seven years ago, I had to decide whether or not to take with me copies of my films, video masters, early drafts of scripts, duplicates of reviews and announcements, etc. When I mentioned this to Ray Carney, tenured professor at Boston University and author of several books on John Cassavetes and who also claims he is “generally recognized to be the leading scholarly authority on American narrative art film,” he eagerly offered to hold all of my materials. I accepted his offer, with the understanding that he would return them to me upon request and that they remain at BU. Five years later, in 2010, I requested the return of some of my video masters to make copies of them for various film archives in Europe. Carney duly returned those video masters to me. They were in excellent condition.

Since that time, various companies have expressed interest in streaming my films, and UCLA, in conjunction with The Sundance Institute, have volunteered to archive video masters of Sundance alumni films. In early April, I made several requests to Carney for the return of my materials. I sent Carney several e-mails (to various e-mail addresses), and I called his home and office and left numerous messages. Carney ignored all of my attempts to reach him. As a result, I hired a lawyer and filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts, where a judge issued a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction against Carney. The court entered a default against Carney (who had not responded to my complaint) and ordered Carney to return the materials to me, or else be held in contempt of court. After that, Carney hired a lawyer who stated Carney intends to defend his conduct by arguing that I “gave” him the materials outright as “a gift.”

There is much at stake here for me. Without the digital video masters, my films, everything prior to 1990, Casual Relations, Local Color, The Scenic Route, Impostors, Mark Rappaport—The TV Spin-Off, Chain Letters, plus the High-Definition version of Exterior Night, cannot be made available for streaming, commercial DVDs, video-on-demand, or any electronic delivery system down the road. My life as a filmmaker, my past, and even my future reputation as a filmmaker are at stake. I gave Carney no rights to my materials except the right to hold them and return them to me on request. His lawyer has refused to disclose the current location of my materials.

Carney tried to cast doubt on the truthfulness of the inventory I presented. Furthermore, under oath, he stated “some of the items I received I no longer have because I gave them away to third parties. I discarded other items due to the degraded and unusable condition they were in when I received them. Finally, I discarded other items at later dates after they were worn-out by the normal wear and tear of being used.” This is sworn statement from Carney who, earlier, on his website bragged, “Mark is a great friend and gave me almost everything he owned when he left New York for France… So I am now the ‘Mark Rappaport Archive.’ I have the largest collection of material by him in the world: file cabinets and storage bins full of amazing things: production notebooks, film prints, rough drafts, revisions, scripts, film stock, DVDs, tapes, notes, jottings, journals, etc. etc. etc. It’s a dream come true for me and one of the major film collections by one of the world’s greatest artists. All being preserved for posterity at any cost.” http://people.bu.edu/rcarney/aboutrc/letters57.shtml (PLEASE NOTE: If this interests you, go to the website before this entry is removed.)

Elsewhere, he describes me as “a genuine national treasure.”

The judge, at a pre-trial hearing, demanded that Carney supply the court with a full inventory of what he still had, what he gave away, and what he destroyed. Carney subsequently delivered a full inventory—which included absolutely everything I gave him. None of it had been given away or destroyed. Although he clearly had perjured himself, I was ecstatic to learn my materials were intact. After four and a half months of this, Carney got in touch with me to propose a deal, saying, “I sincerely wish you well and I am sorry this issue has come between us.” “I am willing,” he writes, to “ship everything back for a modest consideration, simply to cover my costs and the time and trouble of having stored the material for the past seven-and-a-half years.” In return for my own films, I was to pay him $27,000! Some may call this extortion, I call it merely outrageous. Just to put it in perspective, that would equal 3 years of the monies I get from Social Security. To continue the suit to trial would have cost me about the same amount, in addition to the thousands I had already spent. I couldn’t afford to continue.

Just when I filed for a dismissal of the suit, Carney demanded back, because he claims they were part of “the gift” I gave him, the video masters that he returned to me in 2010—namely From the Journals of Jean Seberg, Postcards, Exterior Night, and John Garfield.

I’ve heard somewhat similar stories from other filmmakers, although none quite as breathtaking as this.
For a variety of reasons, I think this is a cautionary tale you might consider emailing to colleagues, friends, and acquaintances who are interested in the conservation and protection of works by non-mainstream filmmakers, film preservation in general, and archiving not just films but film-related artifacts of the recent past by independent filmmakers. Please feel free email this letter, post this on Facebook pages, and submit it to various blogs.

If you want to write about this situation, I have much more information.
Sincerely,
Mark Rappaport
marrap@noos.fr

Last winter, at his request, I printed on www.jonjost.wordpress.com  a long long “letter” Ray Carney had written regarding his (mis) treatment at Boston University.  At his request, colluding with him, I went along with the charade that I’d just received this letter and chose to print it on my own.  I included some comments of my own on my own little academic career and an experience I’d had at BU.  In my view his letter was far too long winded to be effective, and suggested to me a person rather obsessed.  In fact I did not read it all, nor do I imagine anyone else did.  Perhaps I should have taken more serious note of this.  After the blog was published I was in contact a few times to inquire what fall-out he’d had there from it.   There seemed little.  And then 5 months or so ago (April 4, 2012), after writing him again, I received no reply.  And likewise to a few other emails sent, one on the morning of the day I received Mark’s notice.

Since then I’ve written him 3 times, requesting a reply, and an explanation of Mark’s notice.  Again, no reply.  I take this silence as indicative that Mark’s story is true, and that Ray, for reasons presumably best explained by him, can’t respond.  Along with some others, who also know him in one way or another, I speculate that he’s slipped off the range of what we’d normally call “sane” and into another self-enclosed space where he unreachable to reason.

Ray Carney, 1995, in happier days

In the past years I have met a good many of Carney’s ex-students, all of whom found him an excellent and stimulating teacher, someone who truly touched and changed their lives.  I’ve also met others, in other areas of the artsy film/critical world,  who have suggested that he’s a troublesome person given to stirring up hornets nests and that they have themselves steered clear of him and advised me to do so.  I know aside from his tangle with BU, he’s also tangled with Gena Rowlands over Cassavetes’ film Shadows. I am not interested enough in this to have bothered to have followed it, or read anything about it, so I don’t really have any view.   In sum he’s left a trail of mixed reviews, which, in my view, is to be expected from anyone who is passionate, takes unpopular stands, and so on.  I know from personal experience since I myself trail such a reputation, whether warranted or not.

Why Ray would act in the manner described in Mark’s letter, alienating a person whom he has praised to the skies and championed, I cannot fathom.  And of course, in turn he has shredded whatever reputation and credibility he had in the independent film community – the filmmakers, critics, programmers, all of them – in taking such actions.  I cannot imagine what he could think he would gain in doing so.  So I must conclude, in a way charitably, that Ray has slipped into some mental twilight zone, and does not perceive the damage he is inflicting, and has inflicted on himself.   In some way it is explicable to me, given the stresses of his years long combat with BU, and with Rowlands.  It must take its toll, and it appears it has, and he’s tipped over into terra incognito.  My guess, even though I don’t actually think such things work, is that he’s in need of some dead serious therapy work.

Here are the letters I have written Ray in the last days:

[Sept 6, 2012; morning, before I received Mark’s letter.]

Hi Ray

Not having heard from you for a long time I wonder how you are etc.  I’ve just finished shooting 2new narrative things in Butte and am hitting the road shortly to shoot for the essay film.  One of the new ones I think will be very good, the other not so sure.  C’est la vie.

Anyway drop me a note, however short, to let me know you’re OK etc.  School started again.  More hell?

best

jon

[Sept 6, 2012, after getting the internet letter from Mark.]

Ray

Is the attached remotely true?  Or what is your version of this story?  I sort of don’t care what it is, though perhaps this entanglement explains why you haven’t answered the last 2 or 3 of my emails asking how you are.

I don’t know the whole story I suppose, but I’d suggest that you return all of Mark’s things – prints, papers, tapes – everything.  Without any conditions or argument.  If you don’t, and quickly, your credibility in the independent film/arts and academic world will be totally shot.

I’d like an answer.

I’ll be posting the letter on cinemaelectronica in 24 hours.

I hope it isn’t remotely true.

Sincerely

[Sept 7, 2012.]

Ray

Mark’s letter is out, and spreading.  I don’t wish to see you hurt or hurt yourself, but if you don’t act, and fast, your reputation is going to be in shreds.  How about an answer?

jon

[Sept. 8, 2012]

Ray

Not having heard from you my better nature would like to think it is something benign – that the email system doesn’t work, things like that.  The realist side says something else: that you don’t reply because you don’t want to, or in some way, psychologically, you can’t.

I am in touch with Mark, who advises that an attempt to intervene and get this settled is in his view useless, but I’ll give it a try.  I’d like to see him get his work back, promptly, with no further hassle.  I’d like to see it done with no further damage inflicted on you – which at this point is probably pretty considerable: it’s a very ugly story seen from Mark’s letter, and it sort of jibes with other stories that circulate around you.  If indeed you are holding his material, and its gone to lawyers, and you don’t have a hard contract from him – which the legal story suggests you do not – and you are relying on that old legal maxim “possession is 9/10ths of the law,” then you’ve painted yourself pretty deeply into your own corner.

Let Mark know you will promptly return all his material.  Unless you have a contract signed by him stating that he agreed you would charge him $4000 a year for the service of holding his materials, drop the $27,000 demand for payment; otherwise you are blackmailing.  If it makes it easier for you, I will inquire with some archives, with Mark’s consent, to see if one of them would be willing to take hold of the material, and foot the cost of shipping.  I don’t think Mark can afford it – this kind of filmmaking, as you should know, is not exactly a fount of money-making wealth.  And besides, he shouldn’t be having to foot that bill.

We artists, whom you have championed in your books and public voice, are an odd bunch.  We tend to be “sensitive” and often all too trusting.  I know I have been in my life, and severely burned for my bother.  Though I am still highly trusting, only because I prefer to live that way.  I lived in Italy some time, where the national (Roman) motto is “Fidarsi bene; non fidarsi meglio.”  “To trust is good; not to trust is better.”   They live that way, and my observation is that it makes for a collective and individual unhappiness.  Which makes sense.  As Shakespeare had it, “Et tu, Brutus?”  Who needs waiting for your best friend/supporter to slip the knife in your back?

Back in winter, when you asked me to print your BU letter on my blog, I did so.  Frankly I thought the letter was far too long and detailed, and that few would actually read it.  It suggested someone – you – obsessively wrapped up in your provincial battles, so much so that you lost that thing which artists must have to work effectively: a sense of perspective, scale, proportion.   In your battle with BU you lost that sense, and it shows in that letter.  Meantime it seems you’ve gone on to other battlefields, where you’ve done the same.

I can’t assure you in any way that it would “turn things around,” but it would be a step in that direction, and morally and ethically it is the right thing to do:  let Mark know immediately you will return his materials, and take immediate practical action to do so.   I will inquire with a few archival people I know and see if they will be willing to receive the materials on his behalf if it is OK with him.

If instead you choose to try to hold on to his work and materials, you will gain nothing from it, and you will definitely lose one friend: me.  And I will do whatever I can to see Mark’s work is returned to him.  As you’ve noted yourself, I am a tenacious soul, and when I take something on I see it through.  I did you a favor last winter.  Now you do me, and yourself, one.

Sincerely

jon

[Sept 9, 2012]

Ray

Not having heard from you, I’m not exactly sanguine about the odds on hearing from you now.  You seem to be in hiding, in denial, caught up in a web of unhappiness which appears largely of your own making.  I’m not the only person who imagines you might have slipped off the realm we customarily call sanity and into something else.

The hole you’re in now is pretty deep.  I’d suggest you cut your losses to what they already are – and at this point I’d judge they are pretty serious – and try to recoup.  You need to start by returning Mark Rappaport’s materials to him, promptly, no strings attached.  And issue a statement of apology for what you have done, whatever the cause – a misunderstanding, or a pathological shift from being an enthusiastic supporter to imagining you are owner of things which are not yours.

It’s your choice.  Silence will only confirm the worst.

I’ll be posting Mark’s letter, and my own commentary on this whole matter, tomorrow on cinemaelectronica unless I hear from you with something positive regarding this whole matter.  And failing a positive and constructive response from you, now, I will help initiate an international campaign to get you to return Mark’s work as quickly as possible.  If this ends up being required, your reputation will lie in far more tatters than it already does.

I am sorry to have to say all this.  I am far sorrier that what you have done, on your own, requires having to say it.  You can lessen the self-inflicted damage by correcting yourself now, or you can dig the hole ten times deeper by digging your heels in.

Sincerely,

jon

All of the above elicited no response from Ray.  Emails didn’t bounce back so I presume they still function.  Some other friends and former students inform they’ve also sent emails, to no response.  My personal conclusion is that Ray Carney has, in some form, had a mental breakdown and very likely is in need of serious help.  My instincts lead to compassion –  if I were in Boston and I knew where he lived I’d be at his door.  I know nothing at all of his personal life, whom his friends are or if he has any.  Or a wife or companion. I don’t know.

I do know he’s run a great blog at BU, one that engendered a large and long on-line conversation among filmmakers and interested parties, until it was closed down by BU; that he’s written many books and done research and from an academic viewpoint was highly respected.  And I know he’s had a positive and formative impact on many students.  All to the plus side.  On the other side is his reputation as a cantankerous and argumentative soul, who, in my view tends towards hyperbole and exaggeration, though that is a common matter among people who are in some way propagandists and fighting for transparently minority positions – a kind of necessary rhetorical flaw required simply to be heard above the din of capitalism’s worship of fashion and money-making “popular” tastes.  Ray’s tastes are most frequently at sharp variance to mine, as are his (as with many critics) announcements of “the best” of whatever.  I have a distaste for such listings, always wanting to interject, “have you seen everything, and if not how about amending that phrasing to ‘of what I have seen’ (which is .001 percent of what I am declaiming about), and how about changing that ‘best’ to ‘what I like’?”   Places things in perspective, which critics seem, as part of their job hazard, to often lack.

Mark Rappaport

Mark moved to Paris some years ago, and having never talked with him about it, I don’t really know why.  Though I suspect it was for similar reasons that have found me out of the USA for long periods:  in our increasingly commercialized culture, where the only thing that is allowed to “talk” is money (see the Citizens United ruling of our corrupted Supreme Court; see our national politics; see what is allowed to be reviewed in our corporate news organizations, see Jeff Koons, etc. etc.), support for arts which do not embrace the concept that the only thing worth anything is, yep, money, is, shall we, minimal.  In that good old American maxim, “Money talks and bullshit walks.”   I am 100% sure Mark is not rolling in dough from the proceeds from his work.  Nor are any of us who make work remotely in this realm of making films as “art.”  If we make anything at all it is by teaching, or doing the occasional workshop, or things like that.   Of those I know, those not teaching tend to live hand-to-mouth.    Ray Carney knows all this, which makes it all the more imponderable that he’d demand of Mark $27,000 in “storage fees” to get his work back.  Does Carney have a written agreement to such effect?  I am 100% sure the answer is no.   Nor has he any written contractual paper that Mark “gave” him his work.

What Ray Carney has done is unconscionable, and flies in the face of his long support for independent filmmakers.  It flies in the face of the teaching he has done, and, well, pretty much everything he has stood up for in the past.  So it makes one wonder.

Still, that leaves Mark holding an empty bag, and a sour taste in the mouth.  To be clear – as word out on the net hasn’t been quite so clear: what Ray Carney has of Mark’s are his papers, and DigitalBeta tapes of his films.  He does not have the originals, which are dispersed around a number of institutions, MoMA, Eastman House, the Cinematheque in Paris.  For those unfamiliar with some current film-world realities, getting new digital copies, aside from the hassles of getting the materials from institution X to a lab, would cost roughly $2,400 to make another DigiBeta copy (HD, which is what ought to happen – see this – is far more costly).  This is beyond Mark’s means, and is needless in any event: Carney has those tapes.  For current purposes the tapes have much more utility  –  for streaming or other modes of distribution, than do the prints and/or originals.  Though ideally the films should be transferred to 2K HD, though economics likely dictates against this occurring.

As unfortunately can be seen in Carney’s non-response to the letters I have sent, as well as those others have sent, he seems unapproachable by the avenue of reason and evidently to the simple matter of instinctual logic: this is Mark’s work, his livelihood, and it properly belongs to him.  Carney’s non-response makes pretty clear he has no legal or on-paper accord with Mark for holding this material, and he seems to be caught in that legalistic item I mentioned, “possession is 9/10th of the law.”  The preliminary court ruling seems to affirm this.

As Mark has noted, he couldn’t afford to pursue the legal procedures (something with which I am painfully familiar), and left dangling, he’ll be out tapes of his own work, and in a practical sense, given all the economics of the matter, minus an ability to turn his work into something that can be seen, or even make some marginal living income from it.

Hopefully Ray will come out of his self-imposed isolation and will seek whatever care and treatment he evidently needs.  Hopefully he will see the error of his ways and without further ado return Mark’s materials, and promptly.

If, however, he does not, I think public pressure needs to be applied and if things haven’t altered to make it unnecessary, I will – hopefully in conjunction with others (let me know if you can help: contact me through www.jonjost.com if you will) – commence an organized, public, social net-working process of such a kind that will make Carney’s losses far exceed whatever imagined gains he thinks he secures in keeping Mark’s work in his hands.

If you read this, Ray, please just return Mark’s full materials, a.s.a.p., and spare yourself any further damage.   If you don’t, you will find your horizons constricted in ways you cannot imagine.  I deeply regret having to write this, and I hope for a resolution that quickly restores Mark’s work to him.  And I hope you find whatever psychic reserves are needed for you to see the profound error you have made, and to promptly correct it.

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39 Comments

  1. As one of Carney’s biggest fans, finding out about this has been very disheartening and concerning.

    In 2010, Carney was scheduled to have released “John Cassavetes in Person”. The release date came and went without a peep, with Carney claiming Gena Rowlands was threatening legal action against him. I sent him an email asking about it, and in the final line (referencing an unseen Cassavetes film) he said, “Such is life. But don’t worry about me. I’m in this for eternity. To heck with the here and now. I am preserving these works from destruction, and maybe someday someone will allow them to be seen.”

    This was over a year ago, and isn’t much different to other things he’s said in the past, but it’s troubling to read it in the light of what’s happening now.

  2. Other than Carney’s backstabbing a friend the one thing that is completely crazy about this is that Carney does not seem to want to make these films available for others to see. He is essentially holding the material for ransom and as a result he clearly doesn’t seem to understand his role as an archivist, a professor and trusted friend. What on earth does he expect to do with the materials? How can he respect the films and not respect the person who made them? It is inexplicable and inexcusable that he would not return the films to Mark – even after a court order. I hope other archivists, filmmakers and institutions will put the pressure on Carney to do the right thing. At the very least Mark deserves to have his own art work returned to him.

  3. I sent Ray a letter, as a longtime fan and admirer of his work. He hasn’t responded. My first thought, and maybe someone’s already looked into this, is “is he teaching at BU this semester?” All of my friends at BU have graduated, so I have no access to the course listing. If he is teaching there, maybe an in person intervention could be arranged to sort this whole thing out and hopefully get him the help he needs. A darker part of my mind thinks that perhaps this is all research for a second essay he’s writing on Dreyer’s Joan of Arc. If it isn’t, that may be the only use he gets out of this whole fiasco.

    It’s commendable you’re doing what you’re doing in this regard Jon, and to be honest I expect no less from you. You have a good track record with this stuff. I’m exploring other avenues right now with Mark’s consent to try to create a public stir and acquire resources to get this sorted out. I’ll post more details when they go online.

  4. I’m also a former student of Ray’s, and love him dearly for all that he has meant to me as a teacher. He’s had such a profound effect on so many young filmmakers like myself. Be that as it may, I am not at all surprised by his withholding of material from Mark. I can only guess that the material he was given is now in poor condition, and he hasn’t the heart to admit that he has nothing to return. As for the lack of response to any emails, perhaps he has in fact gone off the “deep end” (I sincerely hope not!), and if so we should all be a bit more nice to him and ease down with the pressure. I can only believe that he’s out somewhere in a cabin, totally off the grid, and no access to the internet, let alone a computer. There must be a less invasive way than further tarnishing his reputation via the internet. I wish someone did know where he lived.

    • Sotirios Papavasiliou
    • Posted September 11, 2012 at 5:25 am
    • Permalink
    • Reply

    It’s still all too raw for me to offer comments, but ironies abound:

    http://explore.bfi.org.uk/sightandsoundpolls/2012/voter/175

    I think that’s the only public word from Prof. Carney since his letter to Jost; also, at least from checking the BU film courses site, it seems he isn’t teaching this fall semester.

    I sincerely hope (and do think) it will end well, both for Carney and Rappaport, and that the dedicated among us will see get to see Rappaport’s work, appropriately:

    One thing, about Carney being a “theif,” as he is being labelled now . . . Let’s judge ourselves before we lose our composure spitting vemom. We too are ripping off Rappaport–yes, in a small but also in a serious way–when we torrent him, and / or post entire films of his online, as in the case of this:

    and this:

    http://www.ubu.com/film/rappaport.html

    Let’s consult our conscience, maybe for the first time in a long time, before we click “play.”

    Ditto too of course:

    • Thanks for posting this link to Scenic Route. It is not at all theft to share this via YouTube. To me it’s as much a privilege as access to a public library. Ever since Ray showed me a clip of this in class, I’ve never had the chance to watch it in its entirety, and living in Abu Dhabi, UAE, I’m absolutely sure I never will have the chance to watch it anywhere but via the internet. Now I can learn from it whatever I can… to finally know precisely what Ray loved so much about this movie.

  5. ahmed: Do you have a phone number of Ray’s at BU? You might like to forward that info to Jon.

    • Ray Carney is not on campus during the fall (ever), as he has a deal that allows him to only teach in the spring

  6. I’m just a guy, but I’m happy to help any way I can, as I adore Mark’s films. Add my email address to any circular you want.

  7. I’m just a guy, but am happy to help in any way I can, as I adore Mark’s films. Add me to any mailing lists of people who want to do stuff.

  8. Jon — Very glad to have your assessment of this business.

  9. here’s another way to look at it…if sundance and ucla (two utter bastions of integrity…i’m sure) want to archive the material they should really go do the leg work to track down those originals and take a few bucks from the exhorbitant tuitions they’re charging their students…or that robert redford has in his bank account and foot the bill to make the copies neccessary. When I write of course I’m well aware of the reality which is most probably that they won’t but it doesn’t change the fact that they should…both being institutions and all that care about films. The films are worth it. I have a lot of respect for you Jon so don’t take this the wrong way…I’m sure as an artist you empathize with Rappaport’s dillema but perhaps you’re not going about this in the right way. I’m not a Carney acolyte myself but I hardly think this has anything to do with extortion or 27,000 dollars…carney maybe a lot of things but I think it’s pretty obvious those aren’t the motivating factors here…threatening someone’s reputation in a public forum is probably not the best idea in any event and taking somebody to court is never in good faith…not to mention costly for everyone involved…there must have been a reason Rappaport entrusted the films to carney in the first place…to make an assumption that he’s treated those materials with any other the the upmost care I would assume is kind of a slap in the face ..at the end of the day you’d much rather have carney…someone who considers the films a gift outright and not simply an acquisition …watching over the films

    • As a filmmaker, I’d have to say “no.” Someone who doesn’t let me have access to my own work, and who has violated their agreement with me, is not someone I’d want “watching over the films.” Carney violated his trust, and until he’s rectified the matter, by returning Mark’s tapes and papers, he really doesn’t have a leg to stand on and whatever damages he accrues by his behavior is 100% his responsibility. Or was Mark supposed to roll over and play dead?

        • Mitch Hampton
        • Posted September 12, 2012 at 4:21 am
        • Permalink

        I think it is an honor to have a great filmmaker, Jon Jost, express his view on this most difficult of situations. I am glad you posted here as you are an artist Jon and as such you know all too well how precious the matter is of one’s own work. There are many issues here that ought to be kept separate. Firstly there is the matter of criticism and Carney has always been a good and genuinely original critic. But what we are discussing here is a separate issue concerning the rights of artists, the law, the nature of an art object, film, and visual media, and many other matters. Then there is the issue of politics and legality. I think in the latter Jon has it exactly right. However excited a critic may be to possess materials for further study, essays, teaching etc. the priority should always be given to the artist since it is of their creation to begin with and since artists have so many struggles already in this most compromised of worlds that the last thing they need is to have the right of their materials compromised. Whatever information Carney could gleam could have been obtained from legitimate reproductions. The artist should have the right to decide who holds original notes, films, etc. I am a composer and pianist and I have decided to allow other parties use my music but it is I who decided in a written an agreement not some third party. Now Mr. Jost, how do I purchase that copy of Rembrandt Laughing I have been wanting all these years?

      • Thanks for the generous thoughts. I agree, of course. Re Rembrandt Laughing,contact at http://www.jon-jost.com. Thanks.

  10. post is a little late but in response…no of course I don’t think mark should just roll over and play dead….but you’re not dealing with a master criminal here. I find it pretty hard to believe it’s any easier and more efficient to take someone to court than it is to track someone down and handle things in more personal manner….whatever manner that may be… as an artist I’m sure there’s a reason why you didn’t simply decide to pursue a career in either politics or law. you probably made the right decision

    • Mike, having read the article, what happens if Jon (or whoever) spends hundreds / thousands of dollars tracking down and approaching Ray Carney, only for him to tell Jon to go forth and multiply? What then? I think lots of people have tried to contact him reasonably, and his non-response means the only legal option left is to go to the courts.

  11. with respect… you wouldn’t have to spend much more I’d assume than you would to have hired a lawyer in the first place..and you have to figure ultimately that the guy cares about the films and has a high esteem for both Rappaport and Jon ..so if confronted face to face he’s probably not going to just flip them the bird. Maybe that’s naive…. who knows…In any event if I made it sound like I take Rappaport’s difficulty lightly…I apologize…because it’s not the case. I think it’s a highly unfortunate situation and in my experience there are a lot of very controlling people out there and it makes it all the more confusing when they happen also to be highly intelligent and caring people at the very same time

    • I think Mark made clear he tried avenues which most of us would deem appropriate, and then finally had to take recourse to filing suit, and now can’t afford to pursue the matter owing to the legal costs. I myself have experienced a similar thing, where my work was fraudulently copyrighted by another party with a claim of “right by assignment” which means a written letter/contract turning over the work to someone else. No such letter existed or exists, but the Library of Congress absurdly never asks for it to be shown ! I entered legal crap and could not afford to pursue it Four films lost for the last 20 years. I wrote Carney, as my post shows, numerous times. He has not responded. Others have written. I personally think he’s gone off the deep end, and is apparently not approachable to reason. Public exposure is the avenue left. Though it can be followed with approaching publishers and orchestrating a boycott of Carney as a public speaker, as a professor at BU, and other ways to make the cost of his behavior unbearable. The simple, moral, ethical and practical solution is for him to promptly return Mark’s material. The ball is in his court.

  12. I have a huge respect for both Jon and Mark, but I would have thought that the former would have extended Carney a bit more rope here. Carney is, in my view at least, the biggest supporter in the world of both filmmaker’s work, and the most sympathetic of ears to both their art and artistic plight and has been so for decades. We’ve at this point only heard a single side to the story, and given years of credit and credibility built by the man, I think we can afford to at least hear his position before we publicly skewer, boycott, or burn him at the stake.

    To start with, the previous behaviour he has exhibited re: Gena and BU, which in certain cases you admit to only have a cursory knowledge of and yet are attaching a strong pejorative and viewing as part of a lineage that led to this final more major offense, didn’t seem to be a problem when he was championing your collective work at every venue he had access to during the last decade when the flames of those issues were burning hot. Further, his past isn’t going to tell the story of this present issue, at least outside of his brain, which we have no access to.

    Like the man once sang, “As usual the truth was something innocent.” Isn’t it possible that he’s away at his getaway writing house in Vermont, which he’s been fixing up now for a couple years? I’m only an aquaintance of Carney’s – I’ve audited a class and spend time with him at festivals – but he’s mentioned this house to me several times. He has often mentioned that he barely has electricity there, so I’m assuming given his lack tech/internet prowess that he doesn’t have wifi. This is a man without a cellphone. Your emails were sent rapid-fire over a period of a few days. It’s quite likely that he’s only checking email weekly or even less.

    And isn’t it simply just as possible, based on what we know, that Mark Rappaport is the one that’s flipped out here, potentially filing an unnecessary suit over a misunderstanding of some kind? Perhaps due to lack of response by email or phone – as he spells actually, which could also be explained by time at the VT house? Or perhaps due to other information that we are not privvy to here?

    On page 57 of his letters from his now defunct site, Carney wrote responding to a letter:

    “Let me explain what happened. Did you know the following? Mark is a great friend and gave me almost everything he owned when he left New York for France? Thousands of pages and box after box of material. So I am now the “Mark Rappaport Archive.” I have the largest collection of material by him in the world: file cabinets and storage bins full of amazing things: production notebooks, film prints, rough drafts, revisions, scripts, film stock, DVDs, tapes, notes, jottings, journals, etc. etc. etc. It’s a dream come true for me and one of the major film collections by one of the world’s greatest artists. All being preserved for posterity at any cost. (Just like my rare Cassavetes material–both unknown film material and scripts and notebooks.) But, alas, I am not a rental operation, and can’t possibly deal with sending things out and tending to the paperwork and cleaning prints and repairing splices, etc. (Let alone the risk of losing the only print of something, the only copy I have.) So my massive collection is of no use at all for your purposes. Mark is one of cinema’s greatest living artists and I would love to make all of this material available to a museum or film archive for a massive retrospective “show” of Mark’s work, notebooks, scripts, etc., but I just can’t send individual films out to movie theaters for one-time bookings.”

    These pages contain two of the mentions I found; presumably there are others – all clearly pre-date this lawsuit business by years:

    http://people.bu.edu/rcarney/aboutrc/letters57.shtml#rapp

    http://people.bu.edu/rcarney/aboutrc/biotext.shtml

    Given that the site hasn’t been updated in years since BU took away the keys, and there are 122 pages of letters on the site, my assumption is that his statement was published somewhere between five and ten years ago. He mentioned on his site multiple times that Mark “gave” the items to him.

    Let me counter the wholesale assumptions be made here with one of my very own: what if Carney has spent thousands and thousands of dollars caring for an archive that he assumed he was the sole caretaker of – rightly so if the above quote is true – only to have the filmmaker request it’s immediate return with no questions asked? And what if that filmmaker himself isn’t the paragon of mental stability – since we’re all so willing to go there?

    The entire particular filmmaking community that Ray Carney helped to spearhead is supposed to totally abandon him because he didn’t write you back inside of three days?

    Something is obviously amiss, and certainly I want Mark Rappaport to have access to any/all of his materials, but there are simply too many possibilities for me to view your stance – as tempered, pragmatic, and thoughtful as it is – as anything less than reactionary. I would ask that we all take a breather and wait for the man to come forward.

    That written, I live in Boston and am personally willing to drive to either of his homes (in MA or VT) and check in on him. I don’t have either address, but like everyone here, I have the internet and assume he can be found fairly easily.

    • I think if you bother to read Mark’s letter, and then my notes, you will see this has been going on now many months, including the involvement of lawyers, and Carney’s apparent intransigence about returning Mark’s materials. I don’t buy any out-of-touch story given the relatively long period this has been going on. The last note I had from Carney was April 2, full of talk about BU, ethics, and such things. At his request I printed his long diatribe about BU, and then he in effect has dropped out of sight. He can easily resolve this matter by simply returning Mark’s materials and issuing an apology.

      A few other people have indicated they’ll try to locate Carney – who apparently is not teaching this semester – and try to see him to ascertain his view/condition. He’s had ample time to give his “side of the story,” among other places in court where he was told to turn the material over; he didn’t. That, unfortunately, speaks volumes. At this juncture I am inclined to accept that actions speak a hell of a lot louder than words.

      “Let me counter the wholesale assumptions be made here with one of my very own: what if Carney has spent thousands and thousands of dollars caring for an archive that he assumed he was the sole caretaker of – rightly so if the above quote is true – only to have the filmmaker request it’s immediate return with no questions asked? And what if that filmmaker himself isn’t the paragon of mental stability – since we’re all so willing to go there?”

      If Carney spent thousands and thousands of dollars “archiving” 10 or so DigiBeta tapes and some boxes of papers, he’s a fool. And even if he did, lacking a written agreement with Rappaport that he’d be charging $300 a month for holding those materials in safe-keeping, though the agreement he had was to return materials on request, then it’s his choice to have spent the money and it’s his bill.

      Carney has also written that I am “a great friend” – though I have spent at most a few hours in his presence, and while I sympathized with his predicament at BU, and from personal experience of my own at BU found his story credible, I don’t, however, make “great friends” in a few hours. Carney is, as his writing shows, a heavy user of rhetorical over-kill in support of those things he likes, and of its negatives in the case of things he doesn’t like. After a fashion, live by the sword, die by the sword.

      Ray can readily end this by returning Mark’s materials, or, failing that, coming up with a contractually, legally viable document signed by Mark turning over all control/rights, etc. to Carney. I sincerely doubt he has such a paper. It seems clear from the quasi-hysterical quote you use about his getting possession of these materials that being asked to care-take Mark’s stuff went to his head, and his interpretation of “gave for temporary safe-keeping” seems to have meant “yours to own” to him. So: let’s see Ray Carney’s contractually valid agreement with Mark Rappaport – which if he had one he would surely have produced in court – or let’s see him return the materials to Mark. Very simple.

      Ironically, Mr Carney, in his writings, for public consumption and to me, has prized me for exactly what I am doing now: standing up and telling the truth and doing what’s right, even if it might be costly to me.

  13. I just received an email from Mr. Jost asking: “How about coming out from behind your cloak of anonymity?” So I suppose I will post again. One wonders if above posters “Mike” and “Daniel” received similar emails, as they also only posted their first names. My name is Kris Price, I live just north of Boston, and am a voracious consumer of cinema, records, art, and baseball – I’ve seen most of the films by the filmmakers mentioned here. I work in non-profit education. I’ve read most of Carney’s books and entire website. I audited his Y.Ozu class in the spring of…’09 I think. I pay close attention to him because I believe he is among the brightest, most expressive minds at play in the world today that is not directly engaged in the mediums he espouses. Noam Chomsky is another. I’ve never related so closely to the writings of a “critic,” both in terms of his taste and philosophies/views, and discovered his work after years of watching Cassavetes films over and over. After discovering his work, I found out that I had a co-worker that had been a film major at BU and had many classes with RC and absolutely hates him. Like RC hated Cassavetes at first, I hated RC upon first encounter too, unable at first to accept his profound readings of cinema. Outside of the audit, a few emails and brief chats at festivals that he has hosted in Boston, I’ve never spent time with him. And I hope that’s pretty much the extent of leg you’d like to see poking out from my cloak.

    I see that RC refers to Mark as “a great friend,” but you mention he has referred to you as such, and then go on to say that you are no such thing. Can you link to where he says this, if it was in public? I see in your post of his open letter re: BU last November that you refer to him as “a friend.” That and what I assumed to be an extensive history of correspondance between the two of you, and (again I assume) your reading of his work, would in and of itself free him from some of your harshness. Not because you shouldn’t hold him accountable – indeed, because of his writings on ethics, etc, and apparent actions here, you should hold him to the highest standard – but simply to allow him enough rope to either free the knot or hang himself. That is all.

    I did bother to read Mark’s letter, multiple times, and of course it has now permiated related websites the world over, absolutely destroying Carney’s reputation. I agree in absolute terms that at RC should speak up, and wrote him days ago to suggest that he do so. My point about him not responding to you and Mark is more about the timeliness: he may not have the internet access to respond to you in three days time (which he has stated to me in the past), and he may have simply been focusing on his writing and blocking out the world when Mark came calling earlier this year for his work. You’ll note that Mark filed suit in lieu of hearing back from Ray, finally eliciting a response. Is it beyond a reasonable doubt that he could have simply been outside the reach of phone/email for a month or two? Or that Mark fudged a little in his letter? Or that Mark (whom I’ve never met and have no way of knowing) was a bit hysterical in all of this, triggering a reactionary response by RC? I’m not saying I believe any of this; I’m simply asking that we not witch-hunt one of the singular voices in the wilderness that has selflessly championed your and Mark’s work for the last quarter century or beyond.

    You mention that Carney was told “in court” to “turn the material over” to Mark. Mark’s letter does not reference this.

    Mark writes: “Just when I filed for a dismissal of the suit, Carney demanded back, because he claims they were part of “the gift” I gave him, the video masters that he returned to me in 2010…” Why was the dismissal filed? Why would he have to dismiss the case if the court ordered him to hand over the material? Then, after all this mess, Carney writes him to “demand” the “lent” masters back? This is indeed hysterical behavior, but who’s? And where is the proof of this incident? What Mark has written here has become the bible that you are operating from. It is incendiary without a detonation radius. I’m asking that we hold the line until the balance arrives.

    You are piling on this incident to what you perceive as a lineage of behavior, with this as a major crossing into insanity or the like by Carney. But when the previous behavior was occurring (the Gena and BU issues) he was considered a *hero* for those battles by this very community. Mark handed over all this material to him. He didn’t do it with a gun to his head. Yes, RC should give it back, but I can imagine a multitude of reasons why these events occurred that leave both men innocent.

    It would be great to have full disclosure on what has gone on between the two men, but we don’t have that. We have one side. And you are filling the other side. And I’m asking you not to, regardless of whether you feel you’re “telling the truth” even if “it’s costly” to you. You are not telling the truth. Mark told his truth. What Mark did by publishing his letter is a shot across the bow. You have zero insight beyond what Mark has written and what you and Mark – one side – have talked about. It’s very good editorial, but it is not truth. Perhaps Carney has lost his mind, but you and I have no idea. And if I were to apply your level of severity here, what you have written is simple internet gossip at best, slander at worst.

    I’d be happy to hear what this is costing you. It’s pretty obvious what your writings and the rest of this business is costing your “friend.”

    If everything you and Mark have written bears true as time rolls on, I will be happy to light the pyre. Please know that do not intend any offense or rudeness in any of this, but am trying to hold you to the standard that you are setting.

    • “You mention that Carney was told “in court” to “turn the material over” to Mark. Mark’s letter does not reference this.”

      You should quit hyperventilating, and read what is written:

      “The court entered a default against Carney (who had not responded to my complaint) and ordered Carney to return the materials to me, or else be held in contempt of court.”

      The references to being a “friend” are to be found in Carney’s blog. If you do a search on it I think you’ll find it easily enough. If this persists, and Ray doesn’t return Mark’s materials, I’ll go ahead and print the letters he sent to me when he asked me to print his BU item, which is lathered with fulsome claims of friendship, etc. etc. Having at that time been sympathetic to his situation I somewhat reluctantly participated in his little Machiavellian maneuver. I regret now I did so. Live and learn.

      Carney is fully aware of what is going on, what he did, and he can readily end this by simply returning Mark’s materials. Any damage inflicted on him, his reputation or his career, lies directly at his own doorstep. If indeed he’s tipped over the edge of sanity, then he should obtain treatment for whatever ails him, or, if he has “friends” who are real, they should sit down and have a talk with him, ascertain his condition, and if it seems appropriate help him secure treatment, or if he’s clearly beyond reason, take steps to see he is placed in treatment to prevent him from further damaging himself or others. Mark Rappaport should not have to pay the bill for Carney’s megalomania or whatever it is.

    • “I just received an email from Mr. Jost asking: “How about coming out from behind your cloak of anonymity?” So I suppose I will post again. One wonders if above posters “Mike” and “Daniel” received similar emails, as they also only posted their first names.”

      Just to clarify, Jon didn’t ask me to come out of anonymity because he knows my full name (and in fact mentioned me on this blog once), and is fairly frequent contact regarding what efforts I’ve been able to make to help get Mr. Rappaport back his D1s and papers (so far unfortunately too few and largely fruitless), so it would’ve been a little ridiculous. I signed the last post with “Daniel” because it was late and I suppose I was a little lazy. Here’s my full name.

  14. I just wanted to add one additional note that I hope isn’t overly philosophical, but it seems we need to get into some philosophy. That Ray Carney was and is a great critic, teacher and inspiration and mentor to countless filmmakers is a fact. As I said he is highly original in his writings which is a rare thing in the academy. Yet we should remember (as Carney would doubtless remind us!) that the self is not a unitary thing and that it is quite possible and conceivable for someone to be good or great in one area and nevertheless flawed in another area. The issue here is the general issue of the rights of artists and contractual obligations and not criticism, artistic evaluation or teaching. It is important to separate things.

    • If you will note, I made clear that I have met many former students and filmmakers (and film consumers) who have a high opinion of Ray Carney and what they learned through him. That in no way excuses or somehow justifies his actions with regard to Mark Rappaport – actions which are endlessly compounded by his effusive praise of Mark as an artist, and his work. If you “respect” and honor someone and their work, you don’t do as Carney is doing. And finally what one really teaches is not compartmentalized into “teaching” and then “life.” What Ray is teaching now is an appalling lesson in pure hypocrisy. If he indeed “respects” Mark, he’ll return his materials immediately and apologize for his grievous mistake. Now let’s see him do it.

        • Mitch Hampton
        • Posted September 13, 2012 at 6:39 am
        • Permalink

        I completely agree. My only concern was that enthusiasm for Carney the critic or teacher might blind some people to the wrongness towards Rappaport. There is an enormous amount at stake here because it is both an artistic/cultural issue as well as freedom of expression issue. Those early films of Rappaport, like Scenic Route and Local Color, have stayed with me all of these years later, so powerful they are. They have what I would call intrinsic value – artistically as well as historically, as important documents of the times in which they were created. But even if the materials were not held in such high esteem there is still a rights violation: the right of any creator to the fruits or even raw materials (like sketches) of their labor. I once wrote a whole piano concerto and had the resulting recording completely wasted and/or misplaced in violation of contract. Now there I have no document of that piece of music. This is a problem that can affect any art form and any artist.

  15. I’m fairly sure this will meet with a similiar response but in any event this will likely be my last post…i have things to do…am a creative person myself…not because I expect to make anything off of it ever or care much for praise anyway but for my own sanity….and also the last thing i want to be doing is defending ray carney or anybody for that matter on a website at whatever the hell time it is. so here it goes… let me first start off by saying that I think in most instances your steeliness is an extremely admirable quality…had this same quality been applied to the ny times as I’ve gathered it has been from perusing your site from time to time or any other institution…god knows there’s so many to be appalled by…I would hardly think you could go strong enough ever… and I’d cheer you…my logic behind that being that you’re not only dealing with the individual you are writing to or about but a whole system behind them…however and this is probably where we disagree…different circumstances call for different measures and in this particular instance i find your approach to be unduly heavy handed and very overbearing. for starters your speaking in terms that you of all people should respect hardly apply here…things like reputation and status in a community for instance…in fact you’re using these things as threats or leverage….common logic might indicate that seeing as carney is already probably being boycotted as it appears at least to some extent by bu and from public speaking that this will have very little effect…and also more importantly is I would imagine insensitive and somewhat insulting… i’m sure we all have our bouts of selfish ambitions but you’re still talking about someone here who has given an unprecedented amount of time and effort to “hysterically” as you might call it (some might call it generously)…and at the risk of his own ridicule hearalding his humble admiration for a number of different artists who if they ever got in a room together would probably either kick the shit out of each other or passive agresively bitch each other out to death…stealing art from artists is wrong…your absolutely right about that… but let’s consider this individual instance a little bit……in a court of law no matter how hard you try there is little room for any kind mutual understanding beyond the LAW…and we all know how well that’s going… I ‘ve personally run into some pretty unsavory characters myself though i’m no artist of your or mark’s stature and though i assume i’d be rightly aggravated had carney pulled this on me i would never in a million years hire an attorney even if the guy happened to be bughouse insane…particularly if the guy happened to be bughouse insane…not because i didn’t care about the work but merely because i’d have to figure if i gave some one that same work of mine to hold i’d have to think of it as a personal relationship . i calculated it. and you know what? 27, 000 adds up to about the cost of…if what you say is correct and i’d assume it is…of making digi beta duplicates of rappaports work.you wanna talk about speaking volumes. go ahead with your attack…but understand your right when you query “what could carney personally hope to gain from that?” nothing is what …aside from maybe the fact that he really really loves the work and wants to maintain copies to be able to share with people. or roll around in or whatever … study…or write books about…..that’ probably totally insane right…or off the deep end right? i don’t know…i wouldn’t do it…does it change the fact that mark should have his work back? no…absolutely not…should it change your approach…i think so….absolutely. definately. the guy certainly if anything does deserve a little more than five e-mails from you…i would say…before you take him to fucking court or rally the “indie community” troops and subsequently have morons like david ehrenstein making memes. you must really know some truly stunning friends jon to have to throw in an aside also that you only met the guy for like ten minutes. I mean really king shit. he said he was your friend…big deal…so what? is it completely neccesary to have added that. talk about living by the sword dying by the sword. you make films… carney couldn’t make films like you do…but for what it’s worth you don’t seem to be able to pay anybody a humble compliment with out some side disclaimer or aside attached. that’s one thing to think about.. maybe when you say the guy went off the deep end you’re taking somethings for a little bit of granted yourself. you’re rallying around a cause and it’s a noble one but you’re not going after it in a noble manner…this is not some monolith…goliath you’re attacking…or one who’s claiming he created the work…or trashing it. for that matter..there are people like that believe it or not…there are also people who think launching disparaging campaigns hindering peoples abilities to work are good ideas. I’ve been on the receiving end of that and i think those people are complete pricks. neither you or mark strike me as people who are out to exact of pound of flesh…and as you also say artists should keep some sense of poportion and perspective. you had a guy just offer to go appeal to carney…rather than bully him why don’t you take him up on the offer. maybe he’s a ringer but I really don’t think the people on here who are commenting in some way in support of carney are condoning his behavior but merely trying to point out that they feel that the furor is a little misplaced. if you want my name and address e-mail. i could use the company…just don’t bring any lawyers

  16. Mr. Jost – Not to lay a guilt trip on you, but I had never heard about you or your films until I read about them in one of Ray Carney’s self-published anthologies. The same is true for many other independent and experimental filmmakers whose names I first encountered through Carney. Because of that, and because some of his early writings about Cassavetes were, I think, very important in preserving the man’s legacy and compensating for the critical neglect around his cinema, I find this whole dispute very upsetting to observe. I’ve corresponded with Carney a bit in the past, and have tried to stick up for him elsewhere online (because since the Criterion debacle, it has become rather fashionable to publicly abuse the man, you must admit; certainly, with his rather nasty tongue and propensity for dismissing people he disagrees with as idiots or careerists or so forth, he has contributed to this, but still… the current situation is not without precedent, is sort of a climax to a simmering hostility towards Ray Carney that has been percolating on the ‘nets for awhile…

    Of course, Carney’s behaviour here, if it is being accurately described in Mark’s note, is, inexcusable and unfortunate in the extreme. You may well be correct in your assessment of matters (ie, he’s cracked). May I add, though, that it is also really unfortunate to see the extent to which people (like yourself and David Ehrenstein, in particular) have thrown caution to the wind in their online writings about the matter…? Internet feuds are compelling, but very ugly, and it seems to me prudent to be very careful before weighing in too passionately on either side, since some of the damage done to people’s reputations cannot ever be undone, regardless of how matters resolve themselves. Maybe I’m just not a big fan of public tarrings, but – with apologies to Mark Rappaport, if we’re going to contemplate the possibility that Ray Carney has lost his mind – is it also at all possible that Rappaport’s perspective on this (as one of two parties to a dispute) may not be entirely objective?

    Has there been any progress in tracking Carney down, or getting Mark’s materials back to him? Could we get an update?

    • That Carney mentioned my work, or thinks Mark is “the best” American filmmaker, etc. gives him no right for anything aside from his opinion. His role as champion of non-commercial/independent American filmmakers seems to have gone to his head. He certainly did not “discover” his list of filmmakers he’s championed – he wrote about them but he was hardly the first, and we’d all exist fine without him. Don’t put the cart in front of the horse. See my current posting for more on this, on attempting to track down Carney, etc. I’d be happy to hear Carney’s “side of the story” but he isn’t telling it. Let’s see the contractually valid paper in which Rappaport turned over rights to his work to Carney. There is none.

  17. Jon,
    This is not the only story like this I have heard about in my life, just perhaps the most famous one at this time.
    I think its great what you are doing here, & I’m not putting my words forth to criticize you, but to remind us about human nature (the human animal as some would say), as that is my nature. So in response to your comment:
    “We artists, whom you have championed in your books and public voice, are an odd bunch. We tend to be “sensitive” and often all too trusting. I know I have been in my life, and severely burned for my bother. Though I am still highly trusting, only because I prefer to live that way. I lived in Italy some time, where the national (Roman) motto is “Fidarsi bene; non fidarsi meglio.” “To trust is good; not to trust is better.” They live that way, and my observation is that it makes for a collective and individual unhappiness. Which makes sense. As Shakespeare had it, “Et tu, Brutus?” Who needs waiting for your best friend/supporter to slip the knife in your back?”

    To this whole sad situation I want to remind us all of another saying, “Once you are naive, but twice you are stupid.”
    A lesson to be found in this interchange is one which I hope all teachers are mentioning to their students: ALWAYS have a contract written between the 2 parties when you do anything together–no lawyer is needed for this, just a signed sheet of paper. I am sorry of this makes people uncomfortable, but that’s why they invented the Law.
    To NOT inform your students that their ventures are of a business nature (even marriage is a legal contract) in this day and age, is to neglect your responsibility to be actually teaching the student a social responsibility to their own self, their work and also to the other party. Have some agreement in place also allows for the other party to not feel put upon in any way, after a period of time goes by. Ultimately, a contract makes one feel more comfortable…

    (signed) Preachy

    • Well, while on a practical level I concur, since the world can be nasty and the people in it can be so to, in my own life I basically don’t like contracts. To me they signal, at the outset, distrust. Which is essentially what you are saying – that we should enter upon every engagement with others with an insurance policy which announces “I don’t really trust you to…” and the lawyers are happy since whichever way it goes, they cash in. For example, I just finished making a new film – four actors, Chris helping out on organizing, and a handful of people, like Marshall Gaddis, giving a lot. There wasn’t a piece of paper between us all, there was instead real trust and shared oh what is it, um, maybe friendship or even love. Now if at some point one of these people decides they don’t like me, or something, if they want, they could perhaps stop the film made from being shown. And my view to that is, well, I guess I picked the wrong friends, or I did something warranting this result.

      Mark took Ray, a fervent admirer of his films, as – as Carney so loudly proclaimed – a “close” friend. And he acted accordingly, only to find out that apparently Carney is a devious dishonest soul who for some not very clear reason is happy to screw over the supposed “good friend.” In a conversation with someone recently he lamented that Mark had made clear he was not considered a “good/close” friend. So Carney is delusional, either terribly naive in thinking he can simply steal Mark’s things, though that is not what Mark agreed to or wanted, and somehow everything should still be nice and friendly, or perhaps Carney is a sociopath, and does this knowingly, purposefully and gets some pleasure out of doing so. So Mark got “conned” as in “con-tract” – which is sort of what those things are for: to protect you from being conned.

      So yes, you are right – that in this cold nasty world is what one should do. I am under no illusions that the world is not full of nasty, contriving, mean, cruel, and worse people. I know that is where I live. I however prefer not to contaminate my brief time here by governing my life by the assumption that all people and everyone is out to screw me. And even if they are, I’d rather get screwed over 100 times than adopt a view of the world that counts everyone as a potential threat and enemy. I know I am naive and I know I will get burned again. However, I don’t wish to end, say, like the Italians and their cultural brethren who step out each day assuming the worst – and hence assure the worst will indeed happen. My two-bits.

      • Well, even after teaching video for years where I did ask students to get signatures from their actors, still agree with Jon. Can you imagine if we all ‘had’ to sign ‘Agreements’? It would have made everything seem so limited or as he says..suspect, before we even started filming. So much of the work we create is made in an atmosphere that the world has no taste for.Roxanne

  18. I really have no words to express my sadness and disappointment in somebody who represented for me (at the time I was at BU and since) a voice in favor of true independent film art. Having maintained over the years a once or twice a year correspondence with Ray related to my life as an abused adjunct and ignored filmmaker, in the last few I began to feel as though his vitriole toward BU was somehow…overwhelming in its volume and more than a little paranoid. He often made me feel vindicated in my own sourness at being treated with so little consideration by colleagues and deans – voicing what I couldn’t without fear of losing my sad little job – but it still made me uneasy. Let’s just say, I’d read the email and think…wow, what must it be like to live in such a state of embattlement and still function?

    As a woman filmmaker (in the master’s program), I was supported in my non-mainstream cinematic vision and output at BU by only a very few of my professors, but Ray was one of those (though I have noted since, with a degree of wryness, that he has rarely sought out independent women filmmakers to champion in his writing/blogging).

    I saw Rappaport’s films – and my first Jon Jost film! – in a Ray Carney class and they were unforgettable. I would dearly love to see Mozart in Love or Local Color or Route One again, to see them streaming on Netflix – for my own selfish pleasure in viewing them and to see Rappaport find a new audience. What you & others are doing by bringing this into the open is an act of kindness and an act of courage. I truly hope any public pressure that results will be enough to turn this around.

    • Hi
      Thanks for words of support for Mark. Wish I could report some movement, but so far nothing I know of – Carney remains in his envelope of silence, retains Mark’s things, and it seems BU is game to let it float by. Supposedly an article is due in the Boston Globe, and supposedly one on IndieWire, though so far it is all supposedly but no print. Daniel is planning to go show up with leaflets at one of Carney’s classes, sometime soon. Whether this all presses Carney to do the decent and right thing, I can’t say. Personally I think he is mentally ill, wrapped up in his paranoia’s, and perhaps is not amenable to logic or ethics: totally self-absorbed, as such people can be. It is amazing what thos trillion neurons busy between our ears can do.

        • Kate Kaminski
        • Posted March 15, 2013 at 6:32 pm
        • Permalink

        I keep wondering what could make this…right. For everybody concerned. And the contrast between the relative truth of both narratives makes it impossible to do other than to choose sides and that, in itself, is problematic, if you care about the integrity of these people (and I do). As a filmmaker, I sympathize with Rappaport, even to the extent that he perhaps said one thing then changed his mind. Even to the extent that he dissembled about it. People under pressure often act badly. I have acted badly – who among us hasn’t? As a former student and an admirer of Ray’s passion for, championing of, and deep understanding of the power of cinema, I want to believe – at the very least – that he believes what he believes to be the truth. I don’t question that what he describes is what he understood the situation to be. What’s more, he apparently has the published evidence. But in the end, I agree that the truth can be very hard to parse whether you’re online or reading the New York Times.

    • If that’s true, what Carney said, then I feel like a bit of a dick for being taken along by all this. If there’s seriously a paper trail that proves Mark was happy with Ray spending his money to restore things, and that he would’ve thrown them away otherwise, then I am pissed off about this.

      Ah well, one more reason to not trust a damn thing on the internet unless you can see primary sources, I guess.

      • If there were such emails, don’t you think Carney would have printed them to “settle the matter?” But…. See my posting on Mubi regarding some of the things Carney has claimed regarding myself – simply false and untrue assertions.


5 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. By WHERE IS RAY CARNEY « CINEMATRICES on 11 Sep 2012 at 6:53 pm

    [...] 2. Jon Jost spreads meme [...]

  2. [...] gone into hiding after these alleged revelations have surfaced, and some, most notably filmmaker Jon Jost, colleague/friend of Ray, has suggested perhaps a sort of breakdown, mental or otherwise, may have [...]

  3. [...] movies, Carney refused to hand them over, ultimately demanding a $27,000 payout for their release. Jon Jost has Rappaport’s open letter, along with a chronicle of his own attempts to contact a now incommunicado Carney, and a pained condemnation of his [...]

  4. [...] recent news about Ray Carney’s unspeakable treatment of filmmaker Mark Rappaport (as detailed here) has eliminated my compunctions. (For more about Rappaport’s films, incidentally, go here.)  [...]

  5. By Roger and me | cinemaelectronica on 07 Apr 2013 at 4:35 am

    [...] situation in life.  And, quite recently, Tweeting, he expressed support for Mark Rappaport and my efforts on Mark’s behalf.  To say, he wasn’t by any measure a friend, or even an acquaintance, [...]

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