The story of Merhan Nasseri was turned into a big budgeted movie by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks called the Terminal to mixed results (I'm not a fan). To me the story of what actually happened is much more interesting, if much more darker than the Hollywood fluff piece.
The short version of the story goes as follows: Merhan Nasseri flees his home country of Iran and tries to seek asylum in several countries in Europe before settling in Belgium. When he tries to go to England they deport him, not to Belgium where he belongs, but to France, and in the process they lose all of his papers. Assured that they will turn up he decides to wait at the airport. That was in 1988.
The documentary picks up after he's been there 11 years. It gives an overview of Nasseri's case and takes us through several days in his life. It explains how he survives the day to day. It also takes us through the time when Nassaeri gets a document which means he can now travel. What this may mean for a man who's been waiting 11 years is the final part of the film.
This is a strange film about a strange man. As one person says he's a bit odd, but then adds spending 11 years in an airport terminal would drive anyone crazy. You feel for the man, even if you don't completely understand him or his choices. Its all very surreal in its way. The documentary is a bit odd as well since it seems to mirror the static nature of Nasseri's existence. A good portion of it is taken up by interviews at Nasseri's "spot" at the airport (don't you dare sit in his place).
I like the film. I like that it raises many questions, not just about Nasseri and his situation but also about all of us and the way we live our lives and how many of us are just as limited in the places we inhabit. Even when I began to wonder if part of this wasn't his own doing, I had to question whether, if I had been stuck in a years long battle, as he has been, if I would have done the same things. To me this is a more interesting story than what Hollywood told us. To be fair the film is not perfect, it is a bit too static, and Nasseri is a bit strange. Still its worth seeing as a rental, if nothing else.
A Side Note: The thin as a rail Naseri says that he primarily eats Mc Donalds for most of his meals. What does this say about the premise of the film Super Size Me?