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Cards That Do the Talking
by Marinell Haegelin

Why filmmakers don’t use Black Cards more is a mystery. Having one at the beginning can setup the premise necessary for understanding the film’s key points, without detracting from its main narrative; they can be used throughout a film for relative facts or as chapter announcements. Black Cards at the end, particularly with biographical films and documentaries, provide subsequent information about the featured subject(s), e.g., Die Berufung (On the Basis of Sex), Tolkien, and Apollo 11 are a few just this year whereby knowledge on the cards supplemented what had been shown.

Employing Black Cards could have alleviated ambiguity in too many films I saw at the 2019 KurzFilm Festival (KFF). A case in point: TOURNEUR (France/Germany 2018 · 14:23 minutes / No dialogue) by Yalda Afsah. Only afterward, during Q & A did the filmmaker clarify vagueness inherent in the documentary. In the South of France, during the summer months a weekly “bull fight” is held for young bucks to prove their valor. Instead of using the event(s)’ natural sounds, Afsah took advantage of Foley sound, explaining it was to “let the images speak for themselves.” Therefore, only some low sporadic ominous music and/or intermittent faint clapping of hands and whistling is heard during the film.

Worth noting is what’s onscreen: A bunch of (predominantly) guys taunting a defenseless, panicked animal engulfed in a sea of bubbles. This “bull fight” takes place in a small enclosure; just outside that is a machine continually pumping suds into it, adding visual uncertainty, particularly for the bull. Without the director’s background facts, the film was an incomprehensible conundrum to watch. Also bear in mind, this spectacle is obviously not traditional Spanish bullfighting. Therefore, audiences are left to draw their own conclusion, including that of watching undeniable cruelty to the bovine.