From Mark Rappaport’s Casual Relations
JON JOST’S PETITION
TO THE INTERNATIONAL FILM COMMUNITY
ON BEHALF OF MARK RAPPAPORT’S STOLEN FILM MATERIALS.
To go directly to the petition click here.
In 2005, when Mark Rappaport moved to France, Ray Carney, tenured professor at Boston University, eagerly offered to take materials of Rappaport’s and store them – 16mm prints of films, digital masters, some original film and video materials, and drafts of scripts. In 2010, Rappaport requested some of his video masters back, which Carney obligingly provided. In 2012, after having received several offers for streaming his work, Rappaport asked for the return of all of his materials. Carney did not reply and refused to answer emails or phone calls. When Rappaport hired a lawyer, Carney did not show up for two hearings before a judge. At the third hearing, when he claimed everything was “given to him as a gift,” he also swore under oath that he had given away or destroyed much of the material Rappaport originally entrusted to him. When required, at a fourth hearing, to supply an inventory of what he had, Carney listed, again under oath, absolutely everything that Rappaport had entrusted to him. In other words, he would willingly lie under oath to deny Rappaport access to his work. Carney then offered, in a personal email to Rappaport, to strike a deal. He would return to Rappaport his own films—for $27,000. Carney previously called Rappaport “a genuine national treasure,” “the greatest living American filmmaker,” and “one of the world’s great artists.”
Professor Carney’s refusal to return Mark Rappaport’s materials – for which he has no written and signed document to support his claim – is an affront to all filmmakers and artists, and those who support them: critics, exhibitors, archivists and viewers.
We, the undersigned, demand the immediate return of all of Rappaport’s materials to its rightful owner, Mark Rappaport. We deplore Carney’s usurpation of these materials. Carney has no rights to these films nor was he ever granted ownership of them. His refusal to hand them over is an act of self-aggrandizement at the expense of a filmmaker whose work he claims to value. In preventing Rappaport’s access to his own work, he deprives him of his ability to reach a wider, new audience via streaming, and causes him considerable financial hardship as well. It also sets a low for moral behavior on the part of an erstwhile “supporter.”
This is an appalling situation which we demand Carney rectify by returning to Mark Rappaport all of his materials. This is especially shocking in the so-called “independent” film world in which people struggle for years to make films, with very little if any recompense.
Professor Carney asserts that he is “generally recognized to be the leading scholarly authority on American narrative art film,” and has been an energetic supporter of such film making. Let him show that he truly values this filmmaker, and his work, and promptly return Mark Rappaport’s property to him.*
It is with great reluctance I take this step; however Ray Carney has thus far been impervious to personal appeals and it appears that only some kind of public pressure will bring him around to decent behavior. I encourage everyone interested in the independent and artistic film world, or in the arts in any realm, to join in signing this petition. Please do go to the petition site and sign. If you are institutionally based, if you will, note what institution. If a filmmaker, or active person in the film making community, please indicate your role. If an interested spectator that too – after all we make these for you. Please post information as to this petition and the situation which called for it as widely as you can.
I hope this public action will prompt Ray Carney into doing the right thing and to return Mark’s material to him promptly. If not, however, further steps will be taken to secure for Mark his property and I will look for your support and assistance in doing so. If Mr Carney does not promptly act in a positive manner I will commence publishing the letters which he wrote me earlier in this year in using me as a conduit to publish his long diatribe against BU, and will commence serious steps to see that Professor Carney finds his tenure revoked.
* For complete information on this matter see: