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.