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Monthly Archives: October 2012

On October 20th, after one week of being on-line, the petition calling on Professor Raymond Carney, of Boston University, to return Mark Rappaport’s materials – tapes, prints, papers and other items – to him, passed one thousand signatures.  Among these were a goodly number of filmmakers and directors, critics, and academics, many of them very well-known and respected in the cinema community.

The following is a sampling of the more than 350 comments left by signatories of this petition:

Matthew Clayfield, Australia:  

Ray Carney thinks he owns certain filmmakers. He does not.

Jan Philipe Carpio, Philippines

I consider Ray Carney’s one of my mentors in filmmaking, art, and life from a distance as I have never met him personally but have been a long time admirer of his work for championing American independent filmmakers like John Cassavetes, Mark Rappaport and Jon Jost.  It was through his work that I came to learn of these artistic voices outside of studio approved blockbusters.  His work has been extremely formative in my work as an artist and filmmaker.  His current actions regarding Mr. Rappaport’s work are appalling and baffling.  I will always admire his work but I cannot and will not condone and support his actions towards Mr. Rappaport.  Professor Carney, please, you are destroying everything you have stood for by doing this.  Please return all of Mr. Rappaport’s work immediately and issue a personal and public apology.  I make this personal appeal to you as an honorary student of yours who still hopes you will do the right thing.

Richard Koszarski, USA:

Unless Prof Carney can produce a lot of serious paperwork, he needs to return this material to its creator without further delay.

Wendy Lidell, USA:

Archivists and distributors exist to serve and support the work of the artists we love and respect.  Carney’s actions do neither and thus attest to the fact that he doesn’t.

Judith Miller, USA:

It is important that filmmakers be able to retain the rights — physical as well as creative — to their materials when no written contract has been made to turn over such rights. Professor Carney, by refusing to return these materials to Mr. Rappaport, is not only in violation of the law, he is in violation of the ethical standards that he, as professor at Boston University, is entrusted with upholding. His actions show that he cannot be considered “the leading scholarly authority on American narrative art film” when he shows no respect for the makers of those films. Professor Carney has not only destroyed his own reputation, but he has also tarnished that of the institution he works for.

Richard T. Jameson, USA:

Someone really should explain to Carney that he doesn’t own filmmakers.

Bernard Eisenschitz, France:

An artist’s right to get his own life’s work back must be recognized, even though he misplaced his trust in a false friend.

Mark Daniels, France:

Mark is the owner of the work he created. Not returning it is theft.

Ingo Petske, Australia:

Such behaviour is absolutely disqualifying for any academic anywhere in the civilized world.

Madhuban Mitra, India:

There can be no earthly reason for any scholar to deny an artist access to his own work, as also stop the work from reaching its potential viewing public.

Michael Piggot, UK:        

It is saddening and disillusioning to see someone in a position to champion the work of an important artist actually get in the way of it. How much time and money has Rappaport lost to this mess?

Emily Breer, USA:

Because I love Mark Rappaport!  and it’s obviously odious to keep his films from him.

Christoph Hochhusler, Germany:

Whatever the (mis-) understanding was in the first place, you can’t separate an artist from his work.

B. Ruby Rich, USA:

This is a crazy situation: of course M.R. should have his work back. What’s happened to Ray? The situation should be resolved immediately.

Kian Bergstrom, USA:

Carney’s actions violate any sense of decency and, more importantly, are an affront to the continuing work of a major contemporary artist.  Rappaport has an overwhelming moral right to his own work, and the interests of all who claim to be invested in cinema as an art form are hindered by Carney’s mercenary and mean-spirited behavior, for they deprive a working filmmaker of a significant portion of his own medium.  Give him back his work!

Heinz Emigholz, Germany:

I do not like academic vampires.

Fraser Orr, Australia:

Ray Carney is the greatest film critic I’ve ever read, and his books have had an incredible impact on my life. But his actions here are indefensible, and truly distressing. I hope he’s able to see the nature of what he’s doing and change his actions for the better.

Jamie O’Brian, Wales, UK:

I have a lot of respect for Carney’s writing on film, and always will, but I can’t defend his behaviour in this situation. He’s had enough time to provide reasons for his actions but as of yet has remained silent. If you care about your integrity or for Rappaport on any level, return the films. There’s no other moral option.

Jeffrey Skoller, USA:

This horrifying story of betrayal further erodes the relationships of trust and mutual enrichment between academic scholars/critics and the creative artists on whom scholars depend.

The petition will remain on-line for further signatures and comments.  This week it will be printed and presented to the President of Boston University, Robert A. Brown. the Provost of BU, Jean Morrison, and to the Dean of the Communications Dept, Tom Fiedler, and to Paul Schneider, Chair of the Department of Film and Television.  They will be asked to bring what pressure to bear they can, institutionally, to get Professor Carney to return Mark Rappaport’s materials to him.   If this does not succeed in securing the return of Rappaport’s property, we will request that the university undertake a full investigation of Carney’s actions with regard to Rappaport and his use of Boston University, institutionally, as a tool in his usurpation of Rappaport’s work.  For example, Professor Carney did a semester course on Rappaport’s work, screening it, and did he, in violation of university policy, use prints without payment for rentals and without the permission of the film’s owner?

Should Professor Carney continue to refuse to return these materials, we will seek to have Professor Carney’s tenure revoked for ethical violations of university regulations, and for the obvious disrepute he is bringing upon the University, as well as any demonstrable illegalities in Carney’s actions.

Failing a total change of stance on the part of Professor Raymond Carney with respect to this matter, I will subsequently publish letters which he wrote to me earlier this year, which demonstrate all too clearly his dishonesty and duplicity in his actions.

From Mark Rappaport’s Casual Relations




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.

Mark RappaportProfessor Raymond Carney, Boston University

* For complete information on this matter see:

Casual Relations

From Local Color



I hesitate to use the familiar, as I had in the past. You should understand why.

I write this, short and simple, as a last effort to get you to understand the error of your ways, and to promptly return Mark Rappaport’s materials to him, with no further explanation or evasiveness. As you surely are aware the story of your actions with regard to Mark is now widely known – since I published Mark’s letter on my blog, there have been well over 10,000 “hits” – far beyond my usual readership. I have received now many notes from filmmakers and others, offering their help in getting Mark’s material back to him – to sign a petition, or more. I have also had word from a handful of former students of yours and some others who have appreciated your writing – some began to defend you, but as time passed they changed their view. (See for example,

I do not know what animates your actions – I would like, as bad as it sounds, to think you’ve just gone over the edge psychologically and mentally, and that you seriously need treatment of some kind. I guess I’d rather think that than the other option, which is that beneath the high-flown words about ethics you used in the letter I published at your behest, is a person who is duplicitous, unfathomably self-absorbed and “evil.” Not a nice thing to think of someone, but then when the shoe fits….

Shortly I will publish a petition on my blog site, along with an internet mechanism for people to sign up. Along with its being published here, it will be sent out on a far wider basis to numerous interested email lists, Twitter, and all the rest of our contemporary “social networking” tools. It already has a number of rather famous filmmakers ready to sign – Bela Tarr, Atom Egoyan and many others. And of course American indies and experimental filmmakers.

If this does not persuade you to return Mark’s materials, I will proceed to print the correspondence we had early this year – one which abruptly ceased exactly the time your situation with Mark deteriorated into legalisms. And, I will make a serious inquiry with Boston University what behaviors would provide legal grounds to terminate your tenure. I’d rather not do these things. I’d far prefer that you immediately make arrangements to promptly return Mark’s materials to him, and that you issue a sincere apology for incurring all of this.

It’s your choice.


Jon Jost

 From Impostors

Who, me?