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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



  1. I wish to personally thank Jon, who I do not know, for taking up the cause of Mark Rappaport regaining the materials that are rightfully his. As a friend of Mark’s and a long time lover of film, I am angered and PERPLEXED by Ray Carney’s actions. Clearly, Jon, you have “stuck your neck out” and taken considerable time and effort to spread the word as well as made every effort to reason with Carney. I applaud you and your efforts. Thank You.

    • Hi Thanks, though as my young new friend (last year, from Occupy, net met, haven’t shaken hands yet) Daniel – whose been helping out a lot on this – said to me, “I didn’t expect anything else” regarding all this. It’s just the way I seem to be. I met Mark a handful of times way back when but couldn’t say we were “friends” (though perhaps we are now). I know too well how the world is, and when I got Mark’s letter I kind of knew the likely path is a mess of people would get it, say or think, oh that’s too bad and how awful, and then…. Happens all the time. I’ve stepped up and done things like this many times in my life and accrued the rep as a “hot head” and things like that. I like the truth to be out and available. I can’t make anybody do anything but I can try to air things that need airing. In this case, thinking more or less along similar lines, I “helped” Carney, publishing on my blog, at his request, his long long too long tale of his travails at BU. When his emails stopped in April I was even concerned about him. But now I see I was used, and that the emails stopping has to do with his situation with Mark. Maybe that stuck a burr up my ass? Though I imagine I would have done this all anyway. But let’s see if this all works out in some tangible useful way – and Mark’s material is returned to him shortly. Again, thanks jon

      • Making friends is important to all this. Independent filmmakers and artists need to show solidarity to avoid exploitation, and the massive support the petition’s gotten so far is a sign that we’re not standing for this and the community is a lot stronger and larger than anyone might have suspected. Occupy Independent Film!

      • Also, a huge thank you to everyone who has signed and left comments on the petition, shared it, and have been incredibly gracious in sharing resources to help the struggle.

  2. Being a dick over money is at least understandable, if unforgivable. But what motivates Ray in this case? I wonder if he simply screwed up and lost, or damaged, the materials.

    Anyway, I will sign. Thanks Jon.

  3. Jon – Do two wrongs make a right? Let’s say for the sake of argument that Professor Carney just wants to keep the Rappaport Archives for selfish reasons, why on earth would you want to assassinate his character the way you are? Going as far as turning the independent film community, his students, and his department against him? Does the punishment fit the crime? You say that Professor Carney’s refusal to return Mr. Rappaport’s materials “deprive him of his ability to reach a wider, new audience… and cause him considerable financial hardship as well.” You recognize that these are serious consequences. But you want to do, and probably have done, the same to Mr. Carney but on a whole other level. What makes you better than how you allege he is?

    He used you to publish an update of his situation at BU. Is this a big deal? Mark Rappaport has just done the same. A relative of mine just used me to paint his house. “Use” can also mean “help” depending on point of view. It is not evidence of being Machiavellian. His letter was long but there was no evidence of him losing his sense (I read it all). He has been enduring a poor situation there for years, seemingly, and I think that his 9000+ words were not unwarranted. Your 5000+ published words on this site for a matter that doesn’t even directly concern you, and has only affected you for less than a year, is more questionable. Who is the one “obsessed?” You also minimize his hardship as provincial. Is it? Like with this case with the archives, isn’t it more than that? Isn’t the issue about a principal? Aren’t principals worth fighting for? Seems to me like you think so. Yet now with the BU letter you seem to not. I seem to read in your logic a double standard.

    Further, you state that “Mark’s letter sort of jibes with other stories that circulate about [Professor Carney].” I don’t see that this information is material. Couldn’t it be equally true that he was correct with regard to those conflicts and not in this one? You say that you have first hand experience of Carney’s willingness to falsify information to serve his purposes. As a result of this you will not and cannot trust him. Okay, these are very serious charges. You cannot assert them without backing them up with evidence.

    Let’s say that Professor Carney is in some sense emotionally disturbed from years of being the underdog or whatever other reason. Where is your sympathy? I, and others, only know of the good works of Jon Jost and Mark Rappaport because of Professor Carney’s writing. He and few others have done you a great service. Why not give him a break if he is as weak or unstable as you assert he is. Instead of helping him as a friend you are set to ruin him.

    I wonder what incentive Professor Carney now has to return the materials. He has already been shamed by hundreds of people, many of whom he considers the greatest artists alive. His department is aware of the transgression and his alleged role in it. If he returns the goods will he be forgiven? Of course not. He’s already lost everything thanks to your efforts, except, likely, the Rappaport archives. Did you consider this consequence before you started along this path from which there is no return?

    I’d also like to say that I believe, despite some confounding evidence, that Professor Carney may truly have taken himself off the grid. Just because he has access to email, telephone or mail doesn’t mean he uses them. Once when I was preparing a class I decided to use some compilations of essays of Professor Carney’s. This was in the Spring and I was preparing for a Fall term course. I wrote him indicating that I would like to order a good number of compilations of essays. Weeks went by and I wrote again, then again, then again. No response. Then, several weeks into the semester he finally returned my emails. He said he was genuinely sorry and that he was in Europe, if I recall correctly. That was fine. He lost out on maybe close to $1000 in sales and I used other course materials. Did he have access to email any of that time? Probably he did. But it doesn’t mean he had any negative intent either. On the contrary, he only hurt his own sales and the dissemination of some of his lesser known works.

    I don’t know how you can say that Professor Carey’s refusal to hand over the archive is an act of self-aggrandizement. Nor can I understand how you can be 100% certain that he is fully aware of this situation. I thought this country was founded on the idea that we needed to hear from all parties involved before judging a man. You and I might say that Professor Carney has had ample opportunity but I don’t impose my way of thinking on other people. I learned that from Professor Carney himself. But you have decided to not give him any benefit of any doubt, despite his record of good deeds that far exceed those of most of us, despite the faults (of which we all have).

    It is fairly well known, and you have yourself admitted at least some of this, that he has done great works with his website, his teaching, and his writing and advocacy. But now if you have your way, and I think you already have, he will have no credibility, will not be able to teach, will not have a platform from which to write, and the world will lose an original voice future independent filmmakers. I regret what you have done.

    I am not saying that Professor Carney is innocent. I don’t know that he’s not, either, though. But I do know that the punishment has come prematurely and has far outweighed the alleged crime. What is the result if Mark Rappaport does not have his work returned? More of the status quo. And (now) for Professor Carney? Ruin. This “Brutus” will never again have an opportunity to do all the good work he does – work that may be more impactful and positive than what even Mr. Rappaport’s or your own work has effected. You yourself have recently written, “Making a film is a job like any other. It’s what you do. It’s no big deal, it’s not heroic, it’s nothing to brag about or think it makes you special in any way.” I realize that you have done some teaching as well, but what Professor Carney has done is not “twaddle”.

    You also say that you have been known as a hot head, tenacious, and that in this matter, because Professor Carney hasn’t written you back (which is somehow an admission of guilt for you), as someone has got a burr up his ass. It may be then that you have lost your sense and lost perspective. There were other, better ways to deal with this concern, Mr. Jost.

    • I don’t wish to go point by point and I won’t – it has all been adequately covered in the previous blog writings, etc. I do point out that from the outset I stated I wished no harm to Mr Carney and acted reluctantly. Mr Carney could readily have avoided all this, firstly by returning Mark Rappaport’s materials when asked to do so, long before this became public. Or he could have returned it promptly when it was made public. However his cumulative behaviors point all too clearly to a deliberate evasiveness, and he has compounded this with his silence of the last month and more, and his failure to return Mark’s property. I don’t buy for a second that he is “off the grid” and knows not of all this.
      While some paint Ray Carney as some kind of savior of independent filmmakers, I note that both Mark Rappaport and I were somewhat well-known in the little artsy world of filmmaking long before Mr Carney published anything. We were both somewhat known quantities by the mid-1970’s. Perhaps you only heard of us through Carney, but many others had known of our work long before. In practical terms I doubt that Mr Carney’s “support” has garnered me $1000 in rentals or DVD sales in the last decade.
      If Mr Carney’s career is ruined he can perhaps rummage the classic literature he encourages his students to read and learn from. There’s a lot about hubris there. If there’s wreckage around him, he need only look in the mirror to understand why.
      Meantime he should promptly return Mark Rappaport’s materials to its proper owner.

  4. Principles, not principals. I apologize for this and any other mistakes that I overlooked.

    • Professor Carney is not a savior (again, you go to far) but has been a difference maker. How much money resulted in his work discussing yours is irrelevant. Also not relevant is that you did not wish harm on the subject. You are causing it. But I do think my points are valid and are not, after careful readings ,”adequately covered in the previous blog writings, etc.” Respectfully, -Paul Couture

  5. Having read your comments, Mr. Couture, makes me rather wish I had worded my own, on a previous post, more strongly. Well-said.

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