A fiction film composed entirely of miscellaneous found footage, “The Mist in the Palm Trees” purports to tell the story of Santiago Bergson, writer, physicist, and sometime pornographer who sold arms to the Resistance in France, flirted with the Nazis, collaborated on Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds” broadcast and helped build the A-Bomb. Unfortunately, Carlos Molinero and Lola Salvador’s execution of their high-concept collage falls far short of its initially intriguing premise. “Mist” seems tailor-made for fest and museum outings.
Images of churches, nude Victorian women or atomic bomb blasts insistently haunt the screen, returning again and again in different configurations. A voice from limbo speaks of dissolving identity and the illusory nature of time. Partially narrated by “Bergson” himself in a woman’s voice, the disjointed mock biography is picked up by three different women in three different locations, all supposedly portraying the same daughter. At first, the film’s borrowed imagery convincingly captures fragmentary afterimages of the past, forging fascinating floating links between politics, physics and phenomenology. But in the absence of a strong structure, chaos finally takes over.