Rene — Film May Be Man's Ticket Out of 'Terminal'

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John wrote a review of the documentary a year or two ago about Mehran, but nothing was posted about the Spielberg film which actually stars Tom Hanks as an Eastern European traveler, instead of an Iranian. -rg
Film May Be Man’s Ticket Out of ‘Terminal’
.c The Associated Press
ROISSY, France (AP) – He has no address but his mail arrives just the
same. The pharmacy takes his phone calls and the cluster of fast food
restaurants assures a steady flow of food, handouts included.
Mehran Karimi Nasseri, for years a stateless person, inhabits a
Kafkaesque world. A perpetual passenger stuck in transit, he has lived
in Terminal 1 of Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport for the past 16
But change is afoot. His quirky story inspired Steven Spielberg’s
movie “The Terminal” starring Tom Hanks. It put money in Mehran’s
pocket and could be the ticket to a new life – if he chooses.
“Here, it’s not life. It’s just staying like a passenger and waiting
for departure,” said Mehran, who goes by the name Alfred Mehran.
“To be here is just like being in transit.”
Gaunt and mustachioed, Mehran, 59, of British and Iranian parents, has
ceded the rights to his story to Spielberg, according to the office of
Mehran’s lawyer, Christian Bourguet.
The price of the deal was confidential, the lawyer’s office said.
Mehran claimed the deal with Spielberg’s DreamWorks SKG was worth
$450,000 and said it covers eventual books, television shows and
movies over a 10-year period. Despite several calls to DreamWorks, the
information could not immediately be confirmed.
“They have access to my life story,” said Mehran.
Mehran’s twisted personal history – which differs vastly from the
Spielberg movie – is stranger than fiction.
The victim of an illicit love affair, Iranian politics, bureaucratic
bungling and plain bad luck, Mehran becomes confused by his own
confusing history. He has taken to saying that he hails from Florida
and never had parents at all.
Life is clearly simpler on the curved red bench that has become
Mehran’s headquarters in Terminal 1’s underground boutique level.
Here, he is surrounded by cartons, packages and plastic bags of all
shapes and sizes. Used paper cups are scattered about. Despite the
makeshift lifestyle, he manages to maintain a slightly aristocratic
Mehran prefers speaking English and says he reads and writes
“I sleep here, I eat here, I read and study here,” Mehran said.
He has no real friends, he says, but everyone at the airport seems to
know him.
“He’s at home here,” said Michel Timotjevic, duty officer for South
African Airways. “He’s agreeable. He doesn’t bother anyone.”
Born in Soleiman, Iran, to an Iranian father and a British nurse,
Mehran ended up adrift. Accounts of his life vary, but Mehran is known
to have attended a British university in 1974. He was eventually
imprisoned in Iran for demonstrating against now-deposed Shah Mohammed
Reza Pahlavi, then expelled without a passport.
He went to Europe, applying for political asylum in several
countries. In 1981, the U.N. High Commission for Refugees in Belgium
gave him refugee credentials, but his briefcase containing the
precious papers was stolen in a Paris train station.
French police later arrested him. He did at least one stint in a
French jail. In August 1988, he turned up at the airport hoping to fly
to Britain – without a passport. With no country to which he could be
deported, he has been at the airport ever since.
This isn’t the first chance Mehran has had to escape his Terminal 1
bunker. In 1999, the UNHCR in Belgium granted him refugee status
again. He hedged, saying that he was waiting for a passport.
Today, Mehran reiterates his need for a passport, and says he wants to
go to the United States or Canada.
“The money … is not the point,” he said, referring to his deal
with DreamWorks.
Besides, he added, “Tom Hanks stayed one year in the airport, but I
stayed 16 years. Amazing.”
In the movie, Hanks plays an Eastern European traveler trapped in an
American airport because of red tape.
Some doubt Mehran will ever go.
“He has made a place for himself here,” said Karima Dubois, who
works at the nearby pharmacy that takes his phone calls. “His world
is here.”