The arrangement seemed logical. Mark Rappaport, a critically acclaimed independent New York filmmaker, was moving to Paris and couldn’t haul all of his papers, videotapes, and film reels with him. Ray Carney, the Boston University film professor who had long championed Rappaport’s work, would take the material.
Just what they agreed to that day in 2005 has led to a dispute that has reverberated through the indie film world, spawned a lawsuit, and become a public relations mess for Boston University. Carney says the materials were an outright gift to him; Rappaport calls that preposterous, saying he would never give away such a sizable chunk of his artistic portfolio. The conflict has put the spotlight on Carney, 66, a controversial faculty member who has battled his colleagues for years.