The Mist in the Palm Trees

North American Premiere

Spain | 87 MINUTES | Spanish |


Who was Santiago Bergson and why has the world forgotten him? In this film by Carlos Molinero and Lola Salvador, the Spanish photographer and physicist (voiced by Ana Villa) recalls his eventful life, questions whether photography can indeed confer immortality on its subjects, and mourns the consequences of his work on the "weapon to end all wars." As both a photographer and a physicist, Bergson played godlike roles, and yet he couldn't prevent himself from vanishing. Structured in five parts named for properties of quarks-strangeness, charm, beauty, truth, and color-Molinero and Salvador's film follows its Zelig-like protagonist as he tinkers with the space-time continuum to help a miner who saved his life, contributes to the invention of the X-ray machine, gets spirited away by the Americans to work on the Manhattan Project, somehow finds time to help Orson Welles with The War of the Worlds, and finally dies fighting in the French Resistance. Or does he? According to his daughter: "It's as if he never existed." But even his daughter is played by three separate actresses living in three different places (Carmen Suárez in Asturias, Mirtha Ibarra in Havana, and Isabelle Clerc in Normandy), and the three cannot agree on whether or not their father is actually dead, or even if they had a dog as a child. Using photographs, home movies, newsreels, and documentary footage, Molinero and Salvador manipulate found images to trace the nature of memory, the purposes of image-making, and the mystery that the first fully photographed-and perhaps most violent-century still holds for us.