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Ray Carney's Mailbag -- This section of the site contains letters written to Prof. Carney by students and artists, announcements of news, events, and screenings, and miscellaneous observations about life and art by Ray Carney. Letters and notices submitted by readers are in black. Prof. Carney's responses, observations, and recommendations are in blue. Note that Prof. Carney receives many more letters and announcements than he can possibly include on the site. The material on these pages has been selected as being that which will be the most interesting, inspiring, useful, or informative to site readers. Click on the first page (via the links at the top or bottom of the page)
to read an explanation of this material, why it is being posted, and how this relatively small selection was made from among the tens of thousands of messages Prof. Carney has received.
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I'm just writing to vent some
of my frustration with my classes here at school, hope I'm not bothering
you. I just spent an hour in Film Theory
discussion class (where we get together in small groups led by a T.A.
and discuss the screenings). We spent fifteen minutes of that hour talking
about the war ideology in Casablanca. The remaining 45 minutes were spent
talking about the recent Acadamy Awards show. Is this the best education
I can get for my money? You know, I PAID for this class.
All my other classes are
similar. Some of them show great films (like Tokyo Story in my Film
History class), but the focus is always on these
ridiculous ideologies and symbols that the filmmaker may or may not
have intended. For example, the majority of comments from the class
Story attacked the death of the mother as just a manipulation of emotion
and something that was scripted just to get a tear out of the audience.
And the professor did nothing to argue against this! I took an Italian
Cinema class in the hopes of seeing some great artists like de Sica,
Antonioni, Rosselini, etc. And we're getting them, but not in the way
I'd like. Everything is focusing on neorealism in post-war Italy, anti-fascist
statements, etc. Politics are great and all if you're in a poli-sci
class, but this is a liberal arts film class. I thought that's what
supposed to be discussing. I want to talk about shifts in tone, and
the various filmmaker's styles, and how they treat their characters,
what kind of truths arise from their work. Not politics. I don't even
When I made a comment in
class about how Minnie and Moskowitz explores the idea of love and
relationships a lot more truthfully than anything
in classical Hollywood, the professor said, "That's a good point,
but I haven't seen that film, so I can't comment on that."
Sometimes I think that intellectuals only see artistic films solely
for the act of going to see an artistic film and for their friends'
approval. They're like the people who balance their checkbooks in church;
just going through the motions for the benefits of having done so,
but not really interested in the betterment of their souls.
And I think they're going
to raise tuition next semester.
feel a bit awkward and out of my element, you being the expert and me
being a distant admirer (but then with his films how can you really be
a distant admirer..)i am a 20 year old living in rural ohio where there
is literally one video store and i am the assistant manager there. i found
out about cassavetes literally reading through a video guide and stumbling
across an entry to woman under the influence. with great difficulty i
found a copy and cannot put into words what happened to me next. it was
as if i had lost any ability to feel before and i was completely oblivious
to it. all of these feelings consumed me. i immediately starting tracking
down his other works. but to get back to the question,i've seen a chess
painting in three of his films so far (faces,opening night and love streams).
in two of the films the picture is in their house but in opening night
it is seen hanging behind john through the doorway of his dressing room.
what is the significance (if any? but knowing him there has to be one)?
whats the title of the picture and who is the artist?
beyond the question,i read
your article about the cuts and alternate prints on your website. i'm
disgusted by what has happened. i beg of you to get in
touch with the criterion collection. i have already
emailed them to restore and rerelease love streams
(before i read about the print's "absence" in your
article). but i believe you have the power and the
knowledge to persuade them to release a set of his
works restored and uncut. i dream of having full
commentary on them by you, seymour cassel, and gena.
two disk sets with alternate original and commercial
versions,alternate audio music tracks..you get the
picture. if you dont know what the criterion
collection is (which i'm pretty sure you do,but just
in case...),they are an independent group that through
suggestions choose movies that they believe are
important artistic works. given they have released
robocop and armageddon, that might just mean they have
a broad spectrum, right? (maybe not,but its worth a
shot..) But they buy,lease,
etc. the distribution rights and restore the film
using the best resources available. i feel shocked
that the films i've seen and loved so much are not the
full visions that he wanted to express. i would hope
that criterion would finally realize how important
these films are and give them the treatment they
deserve. for fifteen years greedy producers and ceo's
have nearly destroyed pure beauty, it's time to
reverse the damage. thank you for exposing an unsung
genius and for dedicating so much of your life to this
love. you are the torchbearer in a cave that prefers
thank you again,
Hello Mr. Carney
It's been a while. When is JC: A life in art coming out ?
I recently had the joy of
viewing George Kouvaros' copy of Husbands. I don't
think it's even necessary to describe what it did---------okay what the
hell, I'll do it anyway.
'I'm a big slave to my inner
man child and go out every weekend with mates
to bars, drinking, looking for girls - and when i was watching Husbands
felt like I was seeing my soul in the mirror.
Absolutely heart boggling and incredibly profound. I never before have
experienced a movie where i felt like i was right there with those men
feeling there pain. The vommiting scene was side splitting, I've never
laughed so hard in my laugh, not even in FACES, and the scene with Noel
and Peter Falk was incredibly moving where the one tear drips from her
But the biggest revelation
was Ben Gazzara. Wow. What an actor. His character in Bookie was also
uncomfortably close to my inner self and
The reason I wrote to you
was because I just left your site. This letter
will be the last thing I do before I begin filming my short feature -
Entitled 'Mascara'. It's truly frightening to know that after everything
talking to actors, explaining things to them, I will be completely on
I wrote it, had to produce it and am directing it (duh) and acting in
don't know how Rob Nilson or Cassavetes does/did it. I think I basically
writing to you for some kind of inspirational hand holding/guidance purpose.
I start shooting later for seven days and what I am doing is very very
If i knew what i wanted to
say to you - I wouldn't have written this letter
;-) I don't agree with all your opinions but i do find it comforting
there is someone like you existing out there, while all my friends and
family tell me I'm gonna be the next Steven Spielberg and must thank
the Golden Globes ( heaven help us all ).
At this late hour that i write
to you, I wonder and forget what the whole
point of doing this is. The chances are that not a damn person is probably
gonna see this film. My film could be absolutely brilliant or it could
absolutely terrible. Will I learn anything from this ? Can I be truthful
authentic in a world where manufactured truths are all around us ?
Time to dive head first into the shit Ray.
Wish me luck
Shaun Katz, Sydney Australia.
P.S. Demand to see a copy of
my final edit in your reply.
Dear Mr Carney,
I've known about your work for a while. Then I met Cynthia Rockwell...
who's quite an enthusiastic fan of my work. Turns out she studied under
you. Small world.
I pretty much agree with everything you say on your website. That being
said, I could see it being dangerous stuff to an impressionable young
student. Not that it's a bad thing- if you want to play with dynamite,
the price is losing the occasional limb. Life is unfair.
Me: not much to say. After a promising start in TV and other media,
I gave it all up to draw wee cartoons on the back of business cards.
Even though I'm not a filmmaker, I find myself deeply connecting with
the Cassavetes school of filmmaking. I don't like other people telling
me what to draw.
Anyway, I hope to be reading your stuff for a while, and just wanted
to say thank you for your thoughts and Godspeed.
" cartoons drawn on the back of business cards"
Hullo, there i hav been an avid visitor to ur site for a year now, Am
from Uganda (East Africa) and am always impressed with the information
i read about film in general, especially for an aspiring video artist
Ive read alot about Cassavattes and know he was an true artist. I shoot
music videos here and hav always been torn between presenting visual
art through the music videos and commerciality of things here and of
which people here can not differentiate. I have got alot of critisim
of my workbut hav been inspired by article of JOHN.
Otherwise keep up the good work coz the site is the source of my inspiration
to keep going.
Dear Mr. Carney,
I am writing you because I am a huge fan of the late John Cassavetes.
I have read two of your books about his life and work and I wanted to
tell you that I am very greatful that you shared your knowledge and your
experience with him for others to read and learn from. I am a recent
graduate of Fitchburg State College studying film and I wish to pursue
a career as a filmmaker, director, and storyteller. I know a few students
who are enrolled in the Communications program at Boston University,
both undergraduate and those pursuing their masters degrees and they
have encouraged me to get in touch with you knowing what a big fan of
the late filmmaker I am.
When i read your book Cassavetes on Cassavetes a few years ago my out
look on filmmaking in general changed amazingly. After first seeing Faces
, A Woman Under The Influence, The Killing of A Chinease Bookie, and
Minnie and Moskowitz, I then understood what my direction in the film
world was: To tell a story with truth and feeling. I would love to meet
with you sometime at your office and talk to you about, not only Cassavetes,
but film as a whole, as I am very curious about other filmmakers, you
have knowledge of, such as Carl Dreyer. I thank you for your time and
a responce to this message with a possible time I could meet you at your
office, would be VERY appreciated. Thank you very much.
Brian J. Simms
am just now finishing your interview with Jim McKay in Filmmaker. I
had read the original in Filmmaker but, man, after reading the unedited
copy you sent me in your packet, I realize how much gets cut out in such
an interview. Your words are more illuminating than ever, but that's
not a total praise, that's actually a criticism of how much got cut out
of the original article. Your critique of Hollywood standards and practices
(such as the whole Tom Cruise on Oprah, Steven Speilberg on James Lipton
bit) was outstanding as always. I just really wish the general public
would pay attention. I think you're wrong about sending critics on vacation
for a year (something you said in a critique of film critics, I think,
much eariler) People would definitely NOT be able to figure things out
for themselves, they would continue to see the same crap at movie theaters
for the next twenty or thirty years. The power of a Tom Noonan or a Bruce
Conner might seem evident for you and me, but won't be powerful to the
average viewer (or even the average film buff) for quite some time. As
you've said before in numerous essays, art takes its time to sinks its
claws into you. Art is less of a tiger or night owl, but more of an ant
lion or a spider, waiting to ensnare its prey slowly and methodically,
not quickly and viscerally. My experience with art has always been that
way. For the longest time, I just saw Rembrandt as a mere portraitist,
until I saw enough of his paintings (especially in real life and not
in a reproduction) when I finally began to see some of the mystery of
what he had created. It was a slow process. To this day, I still marvel
at Rembrandt, I still go to the Norton Simon in Pasadena three or four
times a year to look at the couple of paintings he has there, and I still
wonder about those people in the paintings and I still wonder about the
vision, and so forth and so on. I am currently reading essays by Marylinne
Robinson in "The Death of Adam" and am marvelling at them not
for what they are, but for what they aren't. They are most definitely
not the literary critique I am used to, or the religious critique or
the philisophical critique. The uniqueness of her words are just as illuminating
(and, paradoxically, mystifying) as a Rembrandt, a Cassavetes, or, dare
I say, a Carney. I'm so glad there are people willing to stand up for
what is true in life and willing to debunk the myths we create for ourselves
as a society and as a culture and which, individually, we suck up and
pretend to exemplify. Your work (along with all these other artists)
is exciting and mysterious and you should continue it no matter what.
I hope the delay in the independent filmmakers book is not a publisher
problem, because that would be a travesty. I know most publishers probably
aren't interested in Kramer, Noonan, and Zahedi, but I AM interested
in them, dammit. That book cannot come too soon.
All the best,
P.S. This from Marilynne Robinson:
"I want to overhear passionate arguments about what we are and what
we are doing and what we ought to do. I want to feel that art is an utterance
made in good faith by one human being to another. I want to believe there
are geniuses scheming to astonish the rest of us, just for the pleasure
of it. I miss civilization, and I want it back."
Dear Mr. Carney,
I hope that my english will
be o.k. so that I can express what I wanted to tell and ask you.
I am a young film student
from karlsruhe, germany. And right in this time we have a "John
Cassavetes Seminar" in our school. We watch nearly all of his
movies and we use your book "Cassavetes about Cassavetes" like
a "bibel" for getting more informations about this great
Today I saw "Faces" and "Husbands".
Both for the first time in my life. And the best of all my feelings
I had, and there were a lot, was that I was today abled to watch a
movie again as a "normal" person, as a human and not as a "filmmaker".
He made my looking innocent again. This was a wonderful feeling. I
But also as a guy who ist
trying to make its own pictures it was as if someone shown my a way
into personal freedom. The pictures gave me braveness for my hole life.
Also as a person in general.
Now I stop writing to much.
Probably you will get al lot of messages like this and I don´t
want to waste your time.
My question is, if there exists
anywhere on this planet a script of the cassevetes movies. But not
a version wich was written after the movie. Because I am interested
in the process of his work. Is there a script version which could be
called something like a base of his work. The version before he started
to work with the actors on the script? The first written draft before
the emotional improvisation starts.
Maybe my question is naiv,
but right now under the direct influence of the pictures, I have to
ask you this.
thank you for reading this.
and thank you for your wonderful book. I love it.
Hopefully waiting for an answer.
Just a curious thought...have
you ever considered putting the original version of Shadows that you
found (and that Gena Rowlands refuses to let you make available to
the public) on IFilm.com or even your own website as an extension of
your educational process about film and having your lawyer figure out
a legal way to have
people pay an "Educational Fee", (a percentage of the proceeds
of which could go to an educational institute) to see the original film?
That or making it a "Free
Gift" CD or DVD as part of a package of your John Cassavetes materials?
I hate to think of you being forced by some judge to hand over the LAST
of this historical material. What is Rowland's problems anyway? I would
think in honor of her children's father she would want the film out.
Just read the terrific interview "Caring
For Art, Caring About Art" on your
here to open a window to that section of the site.)
I have heard stories
about Gena Rowlands behavior, and have no trouble believing them. Sounds
like she should get together with Beatrice Welles!
you have tapes of such things as the 4-hour CHINESE BOOKIE, the 4-hour
and the original version of SHADOWS, why not send them to one (or more)
the 'grey market'/public domain video distributors? Once these versions
become available on the video underground, it will no longer be possible
Rowlands to deny their existence, or prevent interested parties from
obtaining them. This would certainly put an end to all talk of destroying
existing prints, and might even force Al Ruban's hand. How long would
be able to get away with licensing a 129-minute version of FACES to
potential distributors once it is known that a 240-minute version is
available from grey market sources?
I recall from our
previous correspondence that you had longer versions of
CHINESE BOOKIE which Cassavetes gave you, but were unwilling to copy
anyone, because you felt it would be a betrayal of trust. And while I
understand and respect that, I personally believe that the best way for
to honor John's memory would be to make copies of all these things available
to as many people as possible.
These sites claim
that they can offer otherwise unavailable films due to a
provision contained within the Berne Act. According to SuperHappyFun, "The
section of American copyright law known as "The Berne Act" clearly
films unreleased in the United States, including original version of
altered and/or edited for release in the United States, are not protected
American copyright; thus, they are considered public domain."
So, of course, you could simply
run off copies of SHADOWS, FACES, CHINESE BOOKIE, etc. and sell them
through your website, claiming the Berne Act
your justification. Legally, you should be on pretty solid ground, since
Rowlands and Ruban's attempts to destroy the longer versions of these
sounds like exactly the kind of situation this Act was intended to deal
with. And, of course, you would have a better claim than most to being
motivated by scholarship rather than profit. But two things should be
a) I'm no expert.
I only know what I've heard from a few friends (none of
whom are experts either), or read on the Web.
b) In any case, my understanding
is that this is legally a gray area (hence
the term 'gray market'). In other words, if you should start selling
DVD-Roms of the original version of SHADOWS through your website, and
Rowlands should decide to sue, it's quite possible that you would win
court (and thus set a precedent). But I guess it's equally possible that
would lose and go to jail. This is why I suggested that you simply send
copies of these tapes to one of the already existing Public Domain/gray
market sites, and let them worry about it.
P.S. It's actually quite funny
to learn that Al Ruban is exactly the character he played in CHINESE
BOOKIE. What is it that Cosmo says to
That he has no style?
read about Ray Carney's discovery of of the first version of Shadows
that these letters are commenting on, click
here. To read about Gena Rowlands's attempt to suppress Prof. Carney's
A few comments about Gena Rowlands
that occurred to me from this reading of your PostScript in the "News"
section of the Shadows pages -- about your struggle to show the
first version of Shadows to an audience and Rowlands' attitude:
1) Do you know about something called the Myers-Briggs temperament typing
scale? Gena Rowlands is an example of an extreme, off-the-chart "J"
- once she makes up her mind, there is no changing it, not ever. She is
Right with a capital R and that is the end of it. As bull-headed as they
come. (I suspect George W. Bush is one as well...)
2) It amazes me that she has never read your Cassavetes on Cassavetes
book. Their relationship must certainly have been less than idyllic. You
would think if she loved him she would want at the very least to read
every word he had said. And your book is full of such living, beautiful
soul thoughts, an exploration of John Cassavetes's soul. I know she is
with another man. So rather than wanting to remember her first husband,
it seems more like she is trying to forget him. C'est la vie, her loss.
From: Henri Fellner
Subject: A french reader under the influence of Cassavetes
Well, first a little story:
two days ago I went to the criterion website to see if there was any
Cassavetes films in their catalogue.
There was none. Then I went to your website to see if there anything
about video and dvd (as in the Tarkovski website). I read the interview
you gave about video editions and rights and I was SO SAD!!! Such an
injustice!!! We are (in France too) submerged under so much useless dvd
of already forgotten movies and nothing was done about Cassavetes
films! Even by those who were his friends (I thought Al Ruban was)! So
I went back to criterion website and send them a "suggestion" to
on such a project, as they seem to be a kind of "reference" for
editions). I had a standard mail back but at the end of the day I went
back again to their website and guess what I saw?
John Cassavetes Box Set Slated for Fall 2004
Criterion is preparing a boxed set of five films by legendary American
independent John Cassavetes. In addition to new high-definition
transfers of Shadows, Faces, A Woman Under the Influence, The Killing
of a Chinese Bookie and Opening Night, the set will include Charles
Kiselyak's award-winning 200 minute documentary, A Constant Forge,
along with exclusive new interviews with Cassavetes collaborators Gena
Rowlands, Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara, Seymour Cassel, Lelia Goldoni, and
others. The set is slated for fall release. Watch this space for more
I WAS SO HAPPY!!!! And that
you are a part of this project and that you will be a kind of guide
for the edition : "faces" two versions?
longest copies available and restored? "woman" original soundtrack?
bonus with Cassavetes tv interviews trying to sell his movies (as you
write in your book)?
I spent most of last summer
with your "Cassavetes on Cassavetes" and
thank you for it: for destroying the false and unreal statue he has become
in France where your book is not translated which doesn't surprise me)
about his ways of using people but most of all for giving life to his
thoughts, to his battle, to his faith, to his dedication to his work!
could continue for a long time because you book was such a great trip
through his world!
Thank you for your work and again I am glad you are part of
the dvd project and happy with it!
Carney replies: I include the above letter strictly for the humor
of it. It was written before Gena Rowlands made her move against me. I
subsequently wrote Mr. Fellner and told him about Rowlands' acts of censorship—first,
that she had me fired from the Criterion project and had much of my work
expunged (my voice over audio commentary and other things); and second,
that she had insisted that for the part of my work that remained, credit
would be withheld from me. My name would be expunged as the scholarly
advisor, my input into the box set would be denied, and payment withheld.
posted by pete on http://kawara.blogspot.com/
Other Cinematic News [Read: This is Not a Post About Disney & Michael
So I went to Ray Carney's
site to see if there was any information regarding the Cassavetes box
set. I go to his pages at least once a day, but
it's difficult finding new information since there is no "Updates" section
of his site. I snooped around a bit and found much more than I expected.
Apparently, Carney gave commentaries for the Criterion releases of
the movies but Cassavetes' widow, Gena Rowlands, stopped him dead in
his tracks. Scroll to the bottom of this page to read a letter from
the prez of Criterion Video regarding the matter. I dug around a little
more and found something even more disturbing - it seems as if Rowlands
is on the warpath and Carney is her bright red target.
For years, 17 to be exact,
Carney has been on a search for the original version of Cassavetes'
directorial debut, Shadows. The first cut of
Shadows was screened, only once, for a small audience and was met with
such a negative reception that Cassavetes re-shot the entire movie
and made it much more accessible. This version of the movie is the
one you can rent from any video store and despite its polishing, is
still regarded as the first genuine American independent film. After
an obsessive search, Carney found the lone, beat-up, fragile print
of the first version. He made a digital copy of the film and screened
it for the Rotterdam film festival. Carney's persistence is some beautiful
shit, but things quickly turned for the plumb weird. Carney got in
touch with Rowlands and told her about his find. Instead of expressing
joy, she flatly denied the existence of the original version and ordered
Carney to excise any mention of "the first version" from
his site. It gets worse. She has prohibited Carney from screening the
original cut publicly and as of now, the only way to see it is to attend
one of Carney's classroom screenings at Boston University. It gets
even more strange when Rowlands claims not to have even read Carney's
Cassavetes on Cassavetes, arguably the definitive book on the man and
his work thus. I found it strange that Rowlands has never, to this
day, watched A Woman Under the Influence. I figured it was because
the film probably hit too close to home. Now I wonder if there are
other, more curious, reasons.
posted by pete on http://kawara.blogspot.com/
From: Peter Becker
President of Criterion Video
The Criterion Collection
Subject: Bad news
I'm sorry to have to tell
you that we won't be including your commentary or
essay in the Cassavetes box. Gena Rowlands feels that you have violated
rights and failed to respect John Cassavetes' wishes, and she has informed
us that under the circumstances, she will not participate in or approve
release with you as a part of it. Cassavetes entrusted his legacy to
so for us, her word is final. I wish it hadn't come to this.
well i can tell you now that i will NOT be purchasing this box set.
i'll rent 'em via netflix or elsewhere, but i won't buy them...
what a terrible shame. after all the work you've done in keeping JC
alive this is your thank-you. but i guess it makes sense as anything
worth doing in this life is nearly always met with ignorance or just
flat-out ingratitude. i do hope you fight this till the bitter end. you
are in the right. JC's art is too important to be betrayed by these personal
and imbecilic motivations.
That's an unbelievable turn of events. Your struggle has to be told.
People need to know what's going on. If a mag was interested in the story,
would you talk to me about all this?
Keep up the good fight and I'll be in touch. By the way, I don't know
if you saw the FILMMAKER piece but the link is below.
I was absolutely crushed to hear the news about Gena Rowlands's inexplicable
behavior towards your maverick recovery of the Shadows print and, furthermore,
your involvement with the upcoming Criterion releases. Why? Has the old
girl really just lost it? It all smacks of some kind of petty personal
grudge. And against the truest champion of her husband's legacy (not
to mention her own!). Alas!
Any possibility of acquiring the voice-over work you recorded for Criterion?
Would you be willing to distribute such a thing commercially? I'm at
a loss as to how to console you, but I'm determined that some good should
still come of all of this.
I realize you are, as ever, busier than any individual should be. In
this difficult time, I just wanted to reiterate my continued support
for you and your work, which has touched my life so profoundly.
I know I haven't checked in for a while, but I wanted you to know that
your work is still very important to me. Not only do I learn so much about
Cassavetes, Dreyer, Capra, Leigh, but as a burgeoning college Prof myself,
you give me so much hope for my own future. I look around at my fellow
students and listen to the crap they are interested in - all the kitsch
nonsense legitimized by theory, and I know that's what the academy is
about and I know that's not what I'm about. I often wonder how the hell
am I ever going to be able survive writing about artists that I love when
everyone else is writing about "texts" with which they can "do
things." That's when I turn to your works. I remind myself that you
did it, that you are continuing to do it somehow, even when everything
is against you, and that gives me hope.
I apologize, professor Carney, if I seem to be rambling. Last night Dave
Kang tipped me off to this ordeal with Rowlands and the first version
of Shadows, so I read it as soon as I got in the office this morning,
and I'm still a little excited and flustered. So take my comments for
whatever they may be worth.
Dear Prof. Carney,
I am shocked by the pettiness of your critics who attack you for doing
nothing less than devoting your life for John's Cassavetes' art as
well as dedicating your energy to preserving his legacy as any honorable
art scholar/historian worth their salt would do. I would ask these
critics if they have given as much and as passionately of themselves
in their lives as you have done to spend seventeen years finding the
first version of Shadows out of devotion and belief in Cassavetes'
greatness as an artist. Shame on them if they have not! I would also
ask them if they have done as much to preserve Cassavetes' art. Good
stewardship is all about preserving, not destroying - especially not
destroying for monetary gain. John Cassavetes may have willed the ri!
ghts to his films to his wife Gena Rowlands, but as I see it, you are
and have been the only one so dedicated to preserving his art and telling
the truth about Cassavetes' life. What a shame Gena Rowlands and Al
Ruban do not have your goal of preserving the integrity and film quality
of Cassavetes' legacy intact in its entirety for future generations.
What if Leonardo da Vinci's wife had done the same and suppressed some
of his early works, allowed them to deteriorate, or even worse, changed
them? It's appalling to think that art has so little value to some
I have sent you a contribution
for your "Shadows Defense Fund." Bravo
for your courage in the face of the critics and naysayers, not to mention
for standing up to Gena Rowlands and Al Ruban re: the first version of
Shadows. Go for it! Some of us out here value and appreciate all that
you do, and understand that you give your all to love of art.
Thank you, Prof. Carney, for all of the wonderful knowledge and inspiration
you have given me all these years. You have taught me that some things
are worth giving your life for and being passionate about. You have
my unqualified support for all of your endeavors. I sincerely hope
that all who feel this way and believe in you will let you know of
Best regards from your student,
note from Ray Carney: I have
printed the above letter from MJ, and am sincerely grateful for the support
and offer of a contribution to the "Shadows Defense Fund,"
but I would ask that other readers not send me contributions. This is
not about money. It has never been about money. Simon Field, the director
of the Rotterdam Film Festival, Peter Becker at Criterion Video, Peter
Scarlet at the Tribeca Film Festival, Helene Zylberait at Cine Classic
in France, and all of the scores of other Film Festival programmers who
have contacted me about presenting the first version of Shadows
can verify that I have never asked for a penny from any of them. Not one
cent. Ever. I am not in this to make money. Money is no doubt what motivates
others who are opposing my release and distribution of the first version
of Shadows ("Oh my God, it might cut into the bookings of
the other version! How horrible!"), but money is not why
I am in this. I am in it for other reasons. Money is the wrong reason
to do anything.
Please do not send me money. If you are so moved, do something else. Write
a chat board and express your support. Write Rowlands and tell her you
believe in the importance of what I am doing to preserve and protect her
husband's work. And if the Shadows issue is not at the center
of your interests, then do something else for art. Contribute your time
and effort to help an artist you know do his or her work. Support your
local museums and orchestras and dance companies. Convince others to support
them. Those are the things that count. Not money. Not profits. But the
preservation and appreciation of art. The encouragement of and help for
artists. Those things are worth a struggle.
I just read your newest addition on your website Chasing Shadows and
P.S. pages, beginning with the first Postscript all the way through to
the end. It seems to me that the key issue here is one of censorship.
I find it ironic that any scholarly, critical analysis of Cassavetes'
work and thoughtful study of his life and what "made him tick" is
being censored. What has happened to the independent spirit and freedom
of expression in our society? Isn't that what Cassavetes was fighting
I hope you get positive response to it, but I imagine emails and phone
calls will probably be about the same as the reactions to your keeping
the Shadows film. I think people on the Criterion chat board are just
getting the latest thrill for the moment before moving off to applaud
or stab the next victim... I guess it makes them feel important to
state an anonymous opinion.
But I hope independent film artists understand the consequences of Gena's
position... They all ought to be fighting for freedom of expression!
And can't have it both ways...
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