You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Cannes on high alert after terror attacks

Associated Press Associated Press 11/05/2016

Coming six months after the Paris attacks in November, the 69th Cannes Film Festival has elevated security measures, swarming the French Riviera resort town with an increased police presence.

But particular care has been made, festival organisers say, to preserving the spirit of the annual cinema celebration.

Bomb sweeps and bag checks have been stepped up. A dramatic, unnerving drill was held last month in which mock gunmen stormed the festival's palace hub.

And festival president Pierre Lescure has said that about 500 highly-trained security agents will be on guard around Cannes' red-carpeted headquarters, the Palais des Festivals.

That's in addition to around 200 police and extensive surveillance cameras throughout Cannes.

But the festival, which opens on Wednesday, has also sought to counter the heightened state by continuing with business as usual. The party will most definitely go on.

"The atmosphere is good," festival director Thierry Fremaux said in an interview on Tuesday.

"Cannes is a celebration of life, of cinema."

"These films have a big fighting spirit," he added.

"This is also what makes Cannes and we still want to show that."

Perhaps signaling that maintaining such a balance will have its difficulties, moments after Fremaux spoke, alarms rang out inside the Palais, forcing an evacuation.

But on the eve of Wednesday's opening festivities - including a new "welcome party" for festivalgoers on the beach - beefed up security was far from omnipresent.

The most striking change, as many noted, weren't security agents but a wardrobe change for the ubiquitous festival ushers. Their traditionally beige suits have been replaced with blue ones.

"The French public statement was very clear, is very clear," Fremaux said.

"The festival is as usual, the same way as usual, so everything will be fine."

That was consistent with earlier statements made by Lescure, who pledged that "the maximum" has been done to balance security and ensure "that the festival remains a place of freedom."

Others have emphasised that Cannes, the world's pre-eminent film festival, must be diligently guarded.

"We must keep in mind as we prepare to open this festival that we are faced with a risk which has never been as high, and faced with an enemy determined to strike us at any moment," French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Monday in Cannes.

"We must demonstrate extreme vigilance at all times," he said.

Security was also increased last year following the Charlie Hebdo shooting in January 2015. But after 130 were killed in the Paris attacks, France remains in a state of emergency.

"Cannes must be protected not because of the cocktail parties, but because it is a professional event of a high level which brings honour to France," Mayor David Lisnard said.

Kicking off the festival will be Woody Allen's 1930s Hollywood comedy Cafe Society.

The prestigious festival will culminate with the presentation of the Palme d'Or.

Other films to screen are Steven Spielberg's The BFG and Jodie Foster's Money Monster.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon