When filmmaker Arash T. Riahi bought two boxes of Super 8 home movies at a flea market, he was struck by a series of banal travelogues from the '70s characterized by shaky camerawork, choppy editing, choppier zooms, and sing-song narration. Who was this filmmaker, and how could he track him down? His search for the elusive "Mr. X" takes him to Vienna's Amateur Filmmakers Club, founded in 1927, where its members, many of them elderly, meet to show their films and participate in national competitions presided over by highly critical jurors. Among the enthusiasts he befriends is Walter Spindler, who used to make dramatic films starring his own family, and whose odd melodramas about sad wives and bickering children begin to overwhelm Mr. X's musings on the Acropolis. Riahi ended up editing his documentary from hundreds of Super 8 films-from a collection of over 2,500-using them as straightforward clips, as montages showing common elements of amateur film grammar and subject matter, and as very brief inserts employed as visible splices in his own footage. Along the way he immersed himself in a subculture where little old ladies sing the praises of Adobe Premiere and a book called 200 Filmtips advises, "Always use a tripod; you will not regret it." The derivation of the word "amateur" is taken to heart in this affectionate look at self-taught filmmakers who just love making movies. As Mr. X says, "The film might not be special, but I had fun making it and that counts!"
Born in Iran in 1972, Arash T. Riahi has lived in Vienna since 1982. He has worked for the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation, the ORF, on a freelance basis since 1995, and serves as writer and director for the ORF's Youth and Art departments. He has written, directed, and edited numerous award-winning short documentaries, narrative shorts, experimental films, and commercials. In 1998, Raihi founded the film and media production company Golden Girls Filmproduction. He has contributed film reviews and interviews to the ORF and numerous publications. The documentary The Souvenirs of Mr. X is his first feature documentary.