Twelve Tales Told
2014 4 Minutes 35mm Dolby A or 3D-DCP 5.1 1:2.35 Edition of 5+2

Twelve Tales Told

After a sojourn in a more contemplative series of films observing the looming ominousness of large scale architecture, Johann Lurf returns to the frenetic structural analysis of found footage with Twelve Tales Told. A dozen logos for Hollywood production companies play before you as they would precede a normal Hollywood production; appropriately in 3D if watching digitally, in 2D on 35mm—and self-aggrandizing in any format. Only, each logo sequence, some animated with glossy grandeur (Disney, Paramount), some more restrained (Regency, Warner Bros.), is stutteringly interwoven image by image into the others, beginning with the longest and ending with the shortest. The resulting visual effect is of a sustained anti-climax of bombast: the fanfare for the main attraction is drawn out and aggravated to become the main attraction. Since new production logos are progressively feathered into the mix, the manufactured desired climax of full logo revelation—say, of Disney’s beloved castle and fireworks—is continually delayed by other interfering companies. This suggestion of nefarious corporate perpetuity and competition is echoed in the film’s playful title: count the logos and you’ll find an unlucky thirteen told tales. But look closer still: Disney owns Touchstone (and once owned Miramax), which itself is partnered with Dreamworks, 20th Century Fox owns part of Regency, and both Columbia and TriStar are owned by the unseen Sony Pictures Entertainment. So here’s a fourteenth tale, or perhaps the only real one: a tale of overlapping corporate dominion of culture. Lurf repurposes the iconography and production values of Hollywood literally as a digital brand rather than, as in traditional found footage films, Hollywood as a producer of photographic images. The visual omnipotence of these companies—the insistent onslaught of their recurring brand imagery—and the accompanying aggressive musicality of their chopped up soundtracks are integrated and combined into a singular, homogenized mega-brand thundering HOLLYWOOD. Who needs stories when the brands create their own?
Daniel Kasman

Johann Lurf’s maximalist, 35mm barrage of Hollywood studio logos, transforms the iconic corporate prelude to the big production-to-come into a sustained, stuttering spectacle in which fractured and fantastical worlds collide into a bombastic anti-climax. Like a riff on Jack Goldstein’s looping Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1975, Twelve Tales Told has an aggressive musicality that resonates with our sonic memory, and rather ingeniously creates desire for the dominion that is Hollywood.
Andréa Picard, Toronto International Film Festival 2014, Wavelengths

Every Hollywood film starts with the trailer of the studio that made it. With mathematical precision, this four-minute 3-D deconstruction of grandiosity edits together 12 of these iconic intros to demonstrate that the stories from these dream factories can also be written by the factories themselves.
A simple concept on the principle of found footage, the maximum impact of a spectacle that has broken down. In typical Hollywood fashion, the movies produced at its studios begin with fanfares in the form of their more or less grandiose studio trailers. We see them every time we go to the movies – but never in the manner conceived by Austrian director Johann Lurf. His playful and comprehensive reworking (even in 3-D) deconstructs these Hollywood icons with hypnotic simplicity, offering a new, audio-visually unrelenting look at something notoriously familiar.
Viktor Palák, 50th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, July 2015

With its choppy editing, Twelve Tales Told (2014) by Austrian Johann Lurf is also a rejection of common 3D mannerisms. His montage of Hollywood studio logos, densely edited into a dizzying loop, expands (and renders spectacular) an essentially ‘classical’ technique of appropriation art into three dimensions. The film appears as a brutal sequel to Jack Goldstein’s iconic 16mm loop Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (1975).
Esther Buss (translated by Nicholas Grindell) June 4th 2015

(...) Lurf’s short film Twelve Tales Told (...) interweaves a dozen major studio logos to create a cinematic time-sculpture celebrating and satirizing the epic-scale branding of industrial cinema.
Programmed and notes by Academy Film Archive Senior Film Preservationist Mark Toscano, Academy Museum in February 2022

An artfully assaultive assemblage of Hollywood studio logos, Johann Lurf’s film is a disorienting repurposing of the iconography of corporate media branding and imagistic excess. Stealing and fragmenting elaborate Hollywood logos, whose bombastic self-importance has ruined the beginning of many a film, Lurf creates his own CG spectacular in defiance of the corporate intellectual-property enclosures.
34th International Short Film Festival Uppsala, October 2018

But my favourite short—if not film, period—of 2015 is Johann Lurf’s Twelve Tales Told (screened at MIFF), which intercuts 12 familiar studio logos and fanfares until they become this weird, almost unrecognisable abstraction. The film is so simple in execution—it literally just cuts back and forth between each logo—and so disarmingly effective, transforming clips we’ve seen thousands of times into something that exists in that sweet void between celebration and satire. The sad whimpering of the MGM lion as Lurf’s piece fades out is a moment I won’t soon forget.
Luke Goodsell, 4:3 Magazine in December 2016

Seemingly one of the simplest films in this year’s Wavelengths line-up, Twelve Tales Told is a piece that builds in resonance over the course of its brief running time. What’s more, Lurf returns to some basic premises of experimental film, “the way we used to do it,” which is not to say that TTT is a backwards-looking or retrograde artwork in any respect. Far from it. All I mean is, one of the longstanding tenets of avant-garde artistry, and something that seems to have gotten lost along the way (especially in the slouch into “postmodernism,” a tendency so slack and undefined as to not really commit to having any tenets at all), is that the commonplace can be transfigured through method and form. That is, we can see and hear something anew by composing it, enframing it and possibly demanding that that “thing,” whatever it may be, explain itself within a newly organized context. This can be a purely aesthetic event—a lot of high modernism behaved this way—but it could also be a means to shake the hegemonic crust off an object and force it to stand apart, making it available for critique. That is the work of the historical avant-garde, and yes, it demands a program, a set of ideals against which the artifact can be evaluated. This is how popular cultural material can enter the artistic realm, although it’s rare that it does so in this form. Twelve Tales Told is a comedic model for such work, a rather blank appropriation of all-too-familiar signifiers that rapidly becomes a Schoenbergian 12-tone nightmare of corporate dissonance. Interestingly enough, almost every image Lurf selects involves a conquest of the skies.
Michael Sicinski TIFF 2014 TF WVLNTS (or TIFF Wavelengths For Those Who Don’t Have the Time) September 5th 2014

A dozen logos for Hollywood production companies play before you as they would precede a normal Hollywood production. Only, each logo sequence, some animated with glossy grandeur, some more restrained, is stutteringly interwoven image by image into the others. The resulting visual effect is of a sustained anti-climax of bombast: the fanfare for the main attraction is drawn out and aggravated to become the main attraction.
Viennale, October 2014

This thunderous mash-up of Hollywood production company logos turns ubiquitous corporate iconography into an entrancingly bombastic fanfare for a movie that never comes.
Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York, April 2015

… Twelve Tales Told finally add another dimension to the program, the reflection upon the cinematic rooms and capitalist spaces created by the major Hollywood studios – exemplified by their pompous corporate logos all too familiar to viewers around the globe.
Katja Wiederspahn, Busan International Short Film Festival April 2015

... At the same time, experimental filmmakers were using 3-D to further pursue the “cinema of attractions” that they’d never abandoned—this work is to be seen in BAM’s selection of short film aperitifs. Johann Lurf’s Twelve Tales Told (2014), preceding Hugo, intercuts and extends a dozen different pre-film studio logos while creating a glitch, twitchy kind of music from their interrupted fanfare.
Nick Pinkerton, April 30th 2015

The logos for the twelve most powerful production companies in the world jumble together until reaching chaos. Disney, Paramount, Warner Bros., DreamWorks… Lurf parodies the grandiloquence of these big companies, exploiting their iconic images until their meaning is left scattered. The Austrian filmmaker appropriates mainstream in order to transform it into a masterpiece of structuralism in 3D; a diabolical symphony that alludes to the indelible trace left in our psyche by these dubious “dream factories”.
Javier H. Estrada, May 2015

Disney’s charming signature tune is played, we descend through delicate clouds into the night-time panorama of a fairy-tale world. But the illusion is abruptly ruined when the logos and tunes of other Hollywood studios break into the picture in staccato mode. Lurf condenses the symbolisms of self-aggrandisement and big gestures to a new anthem of gigantism and composes a song, which exposes the ostentatious exaggeration through repetition. The intro becomes the principal part and is newly arranged, while that, which wishes to stand out, is debunked as always being the same.
Vienna Independent Shorts, May 2015

The found footage installation Twelve Tales Told by Johann Lurf (b. 1982 in Vienna, lives in Vienna) consists of a dozen animated logos from Hollywood studios like 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., or Disney. The penetrating nature of these obtrusive and omnipresent openers is heightened to the point of absurdity by the systematic rapid montage of interlaced animations. The humor of this work, posited in the tradition of structural avant- garde film, lies in how Lurf uses the opulent and affirmative self-pub- licity of the largest major studios in the world to assemble a loud, bright, and amusing experimental film.
Künstlerhaus, Halle für Kunst und Medien Graz in February 2018

Johann Lurf ’s Twelve Tales Told slices up twelve studio logos, replete with sound, triggering a hysterical adrenaline surge. Film researcher Michael Sicinski has described Lurf ’s film as “a comedic Schoenbergian twelve-tone nightmare of corporate dissonance”.
Mika Taanila for the Midnight Sun Film Festival in June 2019

Aus den zahlreichen Kurzfilmprogrammen sei – recht launisch, aber irgendwie muss man sich ja behelfen – Johann Lurfs Twelve Tales Told herausgegriffen. Der junge Österreicher hat die animierten Firmenlogos der größten Hollywoodstudios (nebst einiger Subdivisionen wie z.B. Regency Enterprises) im Viertelsekundentakt ineinander montiert, zu einem stotternd überlaufenden Füllhorn kulturindustrieller Bezauberung. Noch auszumachen, obschon in konsequent verstümmelter Form, sind Gleitflugbewegungen, flirrender Feenstaub, Fließen entlang und Eintauchen in quecksilbrig schimmernde Oberflächen. Auch den Soundtrack hat Lurf dem Ausgangsmaterial entnommen und nach dem selben Kalkül wie die Bildspur rearrangiert. In einer Rezension für den Falter nennt Drehli Robnik das anschauliche Ergebnis dieser Rechenoperation „Glitch-Hop“ – und so eingängig-erratisch klingt es auch.
Nikolaus Perneczky in CARGO zur Viennale 2014

Tausende Male hat man sie schon gesehen, immer wieder aufs Neue verheißen sie das Eintauchen in die fantastischen Welten der Filmindustrie: die Logos der großen Hollywood-Studios. Was Lurf mit ihnen macht, ist so genial wie typisch. Einen märchenhaften Katastrophenkurzfilm, ein manipulatives Sperrfeuerwerk, eine den Wahrnehmungsapparat umkrempelnde, toxisch tönende Fusion. So wird gleichermaßen das Verlangen nach einer neuen Geschichte aus der Traumfabrik angeheizt und der Widerwille gegen deren affizierende Illusionsmaschinerie geschürt.
Viennale, Oktober 2014

Nach einer Reihe von ruhigeren Filmen, die sich der Betrachtung bedrohlich ragender Großarchitekturen widmeten, kehrt Johann Lurf mit Twelve Tales Told zurück zur frenetischen Strukturanalyse von Found Footage. Ein Dutzend Studiologos spult vor uns ab, wie wir sie als Vorspann zu Hollywoodproduktionen kennen – passend in 3D bei digitaler Vorführung, ansonsten in 2D auf 35mm, selbstverherrlichend in jedem Format. Allerdings sind die Logos − manche in auftrumpfendem Hochglanz animiert (Disney, Paramount), andere zurückhaltender gestaltet (Regency, Warner Bros.) – Bild für Bild ruckend ineinander verwoben, wobei die Sequenzen fortlaufend kürzer werden. Das Resultat mutet wie eine ununterbrochene bombastische Antiklimax an: der eskalierende Trommelwirbel für die Hauptattraktion will nicht aufhören und wird so selbst zur Hauptattraktion. Neue Studiologos werden fortwährend in den Mix eingestreut, wodurch der ersehnte Höhepunkt der vollen Logoenthüllung – z.B. Disneys beliebte Burg plus Feuerwerk – stets aufs Neue durch dazwischenfunkende Konkurrenten hinausgezögert wird. Der spielerische Titel des Films unterstreicht den Eindruck einer unheilvollen Endlosschleife kapitalistischen Wettlaufs: wer nämlich mitzählt, kommt auf ominöse dreizehn Geschichten, die erzählt werden. Aber schauen wir genauer hin: Disney ist Eigentümer von Touchstone (früher auch von Miramax), Touchstone wiederum Partner von Dreamworks. 20th Century Fox hält Anteile an Regency, und sowohl Columbia als auch Tristar sind im Besitz der unsichtbar bleibenden Sony Pictures Entertainment. Hier hätten wir also eine vierzehnte Geschichte, vielleicht die einzig echte: jene von der kulturellen Hegemonie eines verflochtenen Großunternehmens. Anders als in traditionellen Found-Footage-Arbeiten, in denen Hollywood als Verfertiger fotografischer Bilder thematisiert wird, mischt Lurf hier die Ikonographie und die Produktionswerte Hollywoods buchstäblich zu einer digitalen Marke zusammen. Das unaufhörliche Anbranden repetitiver Markenbilder, in dem sich die visuelle Allmacht der Konzerne manifestiert, ergibt in Verbindung mit der musikalischen Aggressivität der zerhackten Soundtracks eine einzige, homogenisierte Supermarke, die HOLLYWOOD! donnert. Wer braucht Geschichten, wenn Marken ihre eigenen erfinden können?
Daniel Kasman, Übersetzung: Thomas Brooks

Es beginnt, wie so oft im Kino, mit der Logoanimation eines Hollywoodstudios. Nur ist es im gegebenen Fall eine Dutzendschaft, eine Art visuelle Stampede der Entertainmentriesen, die die selbstverherrlichende Logologik mit deren eigenen Mitteln – als eine Art Metatrailer – ad absurdum führt. Märchenschloss, Weltkugel und Brülllöwe geraten in der streng getakteten Montage als austauschbare Oberflächen aneinander (oder vielmehr ineinander), während die tonale Dekonstruktion ihren ureigenen Soundtrack of our cinematic lives generiert.
Sebastian Höglinger für die Diagonale im März 2015

… seinen freudigen Twelve Tales Told, der in 3D (!) eine strukturelle Found Footage Melodie aus den Intros der großen Hollywoodstudios bastelt. Dabei unterbrechen sich die unterschiedlichen Logos und Statussymbole immer wieder ohne ihre dumpfe Vermittlung von kaufbarer Unterhaltung abzuschalten. Die Kritik liegt in der Austauschbarkeit und im Überlaufen ihrer allzu bekannten Mechanismen. Klar wird auch hier: Das Bild dominiert die Realität.
Patrick Holzapfel,, März 2015

Die liebliche Musik von Disneys Signation wird angestimmt, wir befinden uns im Sinkflug durch zarte Wolken auf das nächtliche Panorama einer Märchenwelt. Doch jäh wird die Illusion zerschnitten und die Logos und Melodien anderer Hollywood-Studios brechen im Stakkato ins Bild. Lurf verdichtet die Symboliken von Selbstverherrlichung und großer Geste zu einer neuen Hymne des Gigantismus und komponiert einen Song, der durch Repetition die pompöse Übertriebenheit aufdeckt. Die Einleitung wird zum Hauptteil und neu geordnet, und was sich unterscheiden will, wird als ewig gleich entlarvt.
Vienna Independent Shorts, Mai 2015

12 cabeceras de las productoras más poderosas del mundo se entremezclan hasta desembocar en el caos. Disney, Paramount, Warner Bros., Dreamworks… Lurf parodia la grandilocuencia de esas grandes compañías, explotando su imagen icónica hasta diseminar su sentido. El cineasta austriaco se apropia del mainstream para convertirlo en una obra maestra del estructuralismo en 3D, una sinfonía diabólica que alude al poso indeleble que esas dudosas “fábricas de sueños” han dejado en nuestra psique.
Javier H. Estrada, May 2015

Reconstrucción lúdica de la mayor fábrica de sueños: tres minutos en los que los logos de los grandes estudios de Hollywood adquieren una cualidad hipnótica. Una vez más, Lurf descubre lo nuevo anidando, oculto, en lo familiar.
BAFICI 2018, Cortos Johann Lurf

Dodici logo delle maggiori compagnie di produzione hollywoodiane si intrecciano e si divorano l’un l’altro in una ridda frenetica: la pomposità con cui s’impongono questi marchi aziendali è decostruita in un’imprevedibile pezzo di musica concreta. In epoca di brand e storytelling, Lurf commenta con ironia tagliente le dinamiche cannibaliche delle corporation e la pretesa di includere in un’immagine tutte le storie possibili.
Filmmakerfest Milan in December 2014

Hollywoods bombastiskt självgoda logotyper har förstört början av alltför många filmupplevelser. I denna film går Johann Lurf till attack mot storföretagens branding genom stöld och konstnärlig vandalism. Ett spektakulärt långfinger uppsträckt mot copyrightivrande affärsjurister.
Uppsala Kortfilmfestival 2018

I ’Twelve Tales Told’ sammenlægger kunstner Johann Lurf de store Hollywoodstudiers logoer til et stort, kolliderende spektakel.
Cinemateket København in July 2019

Johann Lurfin Twelve Tales Told pätkii 12 studiotunnusta säleiksi äänineen päivineen aiheuttaen hysteeristä adrenaliinin nousua. Elokuvatutkija Michael Sicinski on kuvaillut Lurfin elokuvaa ”suuryritysten komedialliseksi riitasoinnuksi schönbergiläisen 12-säveljärjestelmän painajaisessa”.
Mika Taanila for the Midnight Sun Film Festival in June 2019

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