A trunkful of Super-8 movies bought at a Viennese flea-market sends director Arash T. Riahi on a quest to discover their maker's identity. Docu ends up being an affectionate tribute both to amateur filmers and their work. A natural crowdpleaser for fests, pic would make ideal companion piece to recent Belgian docu "Born to Film."

A trunkful of Super-8 movies bought at a Viennese flea-market sends director Arash T. Riahi on a quest to discover their maker’s identity in the charming documentary, “The Souvenirs of Mr. X.” Pic ends up being an affectionate tribute both to amateur filmers and their work. A natural crowdpleaser for fests, pic would make ideal companion piece to recent Belgian docu “Born to Film,” about slightly more ambitious self-taught helmers.

Fascinated by the inept but personality-rich movies made in the late ’70s by a man Riahi dubs Mr. X, the Iranian-born director hunts down Vienna’s local Club of Amateur Filmmakers to see if anyone knew the mystery man. He discovers a little-known subculture of film fanatics, a cranky but passionate lot with their own circuit of competitions. Search for Mr. X gets dropped about halfway through as pic shifts attention to the cantankerous Walter Spindler, who makes long-winded homemade docus but keeps on rolling his camera even after suffering a stroke. Cheeky editing, intercutting Super-8 clips with footage of eccentric subjects, injects laffs throughout. Transfer to 35mm of both digital and Super-8 footage is sharp and clean.

The Souvenirs of Mr. X

Austria-Germany

Production

A Nikolaus Geyrhalter Filmproduktion Wien (Austria)/Peter Stockhaus Filmproduktion Hamburg (Germany) production. (International sales: Austrian Film Commission, Vienna.) Produced by Nikolaus Geyrhalter, Markus Glaser, Michael Kitzberger, Wolfgang Widerhofer, Peter Stockhaus. Directed, written by Arash T. Riahi.

Crew

Camera (color), Marco F. Zimprich, Riahi, Geza Horvat, Dominik Spritzendorfer, Helmut Dedic; editor, Riahi; music, Karwan Marouf, Mambo Kurt, Fred Paris. Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (competing, documentary section), July 7, 2004. Running time: 100 MIN.

With

Walter Spindler, Gertrude Macik, Herbert Macid, Sami, Helmut Dedic, Peter Gruber.
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