The European Film Academy has announced that Rene, by Czech director Helena Trestikova, will receive the 2008 Prix ARTE for documentary film.

The recipient of the award is chosen by an independent jury, which this year was made up of Danish producer Karoline Leth, Moscow Film Festival programme director Kirsi Tykkyläinen, and British producer Alan Hayling.

The film follows the life of Rene Plasil, a petty criminal and self-styled desperado, in and out of prison even as his country emerges from communism and enters the EU.

'This is a film which tells a powerful story - filmed over 20 years - about an extraordinary character on the edge of society,' reads the jury statement. 'The jury found its examination of the relationship between subject and filmmaker fascinating and thought-provoking.'

Rene is produced by Katerina Cerna and Pavel Strnad of Negativ. Taskovski Films is handling international sales.

Trestikova has been making films since 1972. Her film Sweet Century was named Best Documentary at Karlovy Vary in 1998.

The Prix ARTE award will be presented during the 21st European Film Awards Ceremony in Copenhagen on Dec 6.

In co-operation with the European cultural channel ARTE, the European Film Academy annually honours an outstanding achievement in documentary filmmaking. Last year's award went to French documentary Paper Cannot Wrap Up Embers, from director Rithy Panh.