Cannes on Alert: Millions Invested to Thwart Terror Attacks at Festival

A police officer patrols in front

Set to unspool just 10 days after France’s fateful presidential election, the Cannes Film Festival is ramping up security measures more than ever before.

The city is spending millions to bolster security as plans are being finalized for the world’s biggest festival, starting May 17, which is expecting stars like Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Isabelle Huppert, Kristen Stewart, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal, and director Sofia Coppola.

But the question, for many festgoers, is how safe is Cannes going to be this year?

Between high-profile thieves, last year’s terror attack in Nice, rising far-right politics, and ongoing tensions with the local French-Arab community, the French Riviera has gone through a rough patch over the past few years. The pressure-cooker atmosphere has led the city of Cannes, which hosts numerous industry events such as Mipcom, MipTV, and the Cannes Lions, to ramp up its security standards to make international visitors feel secure.


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The upcoming 70th edition will be the first Cannes Film Festival since the tragic attack in Nice when an Islam terrorist ran a cargo truck through a crowd watching fireworks on Bastille Day, killing 85 people, just 18 miles away from Cannes. The Nice attack took place on the Promenade des Anglais, which runs alongside the beach, like the Croisette in Cannes.

Since the Nice attack last July, the region has been more on edge than ever. The French Riviera has become a stronghold of the far right, which has stirred tensions with the French-Arab population in the region. Controversial presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, who is running against Emmanuel Macron, gathered 30% of votes in the region, the country’s highest score for Le Pen’s political party, the Front National.

Cannes mayor David Lisnard, who commissioned an audit from Israeli counter-terrorism expert Nitzan Nuriel following the Paris attacks in November 2015, has taken strong measures to prevent a similar truck attack on the Croisette. Substantial barriers, most in the form of huge concrete planters, were installed along the sidewalk which leads to the Palais, the headquarters for most Cannes premieres and festivities.

The city will also spend $6 million to place automatic retractable bollards at every entry point to the town, said Yves Darros, who heads up Cannes police.

After Nuriel’s report, the city increased maritime surveillance of Cannes bay and the harbor. But that didn’t stop a French internet company from mounting a poorly-handled stunt last year during the festival. Guests at the luxurious Hôtel du Cap a few miles outside of Cannes were shaken when a raft full of men in matching helmets and military-style utility vests showed up at the hotel’s dock faking a terrorist attack.

Despite having some of France’s tightest security standards, Cannes has become notorious for its high-profile heists. In 2015, as much as $19 million worth of jewelry and watches were stolen from Cartier boutiques in in the city just before the festival. Aiming to prevent such thefts, the number of surveillance cameras was increased from 400 to 550 across the city’s tourist and festival venues in the last two years.

Cannes has also recruited a wide network of 500 local volunteers plus 80 “vigilant neighbors” who are in charge of patrolling across the city to watch out for suspicious activity and report it to authorities.

Last year, Cannes authorities organized a simulated raid involving fake bombs in the run-up to the festival in order to prepare for a potential attack. This year, it is believed that a similar event was organized, but details of the operation have been kept under wraps. Authorities have indeed been extremely tight-lipped about revealing any details of the preparations for obvious security reasons, as well as political ones, since the presidential and legislative elections are coming up.

Darros said festival organizers have been working hand in hand with various authorities at local and regional levels to ensure top-level security in and around the Palais.

“I’ve been doing the festival for 35 years and the security has always been great, but this year it will reach new heights,” said Darros, who also pointed out that, like last year, daily meetings with authorities and security staff will be held during the fest in order to adjust the level of security needed.

A top American sales agent with offices on the Croisette said, “We have been talking internally about measures to take if anything happens — from communicating with each other right away to make sure everyone is safe, to securing the office if needed.”

Cecile Gaget, head of international co-production and distribution at Gaumont, said she was concerned when she arrived in Cannes last year, but felt more secure when she saw snipers around the Palais from the rooftop of her office.

Some stars will arrive with their own security staff, who would have to be cleared by Cannes authorities and the festival staff. When it comes bodyguards bringing their own guns on the Croisette, they would need to be registered not only by the regional prefecture, but also by France’s interior ministry, according to a source.

France, which has been under a State of Emergency since the Paris attacks of November 2015, was just listed in the travel alert issued by the U.S. State Department on Monday, which mentioned the continued threat of terrorist attacks throughout Europe.

Citing recent attacks in France, Russia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, the U.S. State Department said ISIS and al Qaeda “have the ability to plan and execute terrorist attacks in Europe.”

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  1. ejazzyjeff says:

    So are these “celebs” going to be carrying protest signs about the $6 million dollar “wall” being built to protect them? Are they going to be carrying signs that says Refugees welcomed. Will they be inviting these refugees to the Cannes Film Festival?

  2. RalphF says:

    You know, if you bring a Trojan Horse into your country you can expect trouble.

  3. Lisa says:

    I haven’t noticed any difference except the French police physically abusing and shoving to the ground crossing pedestrians so the Renaults can drive through.

  4. sunnyd says:

    An orgy of globalist progressives. What could go wrong?

  5. Adam Reisman says:

    Hi profile thieves. RIGHT……..

  6. Why the concern when France is drowning in the religion of peace? Maybe France should import another 10 million religion of peacers.

  7. Carter Gwynn says:

    Film industry big supporters of Muslim interests. Nothing is going to happen.

  8. Cannes says:

    RE: “the world’s biggest festival”
    WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? Do a google search before you write something so ignorant.

  9. Reed Smith says:

    Interesting to see a bunch of liberals living in fear of a religion they are enthralled over….

  10. Mike says:

    What a biased article – what does “far right” politics have to do with Muslim terror, other than favouring common sense measures to stop importing these rodents into the West?

    • RalphF says:

      The “far right” is Newspeak for people who favor common sense immigration policies. Same in the U.S.

  11. TomB says:

    Prince Al Waleed will be there. You’re all safe!!

  12. Jeff Morgan says:

    But, but, but isn’t Cannes a “gun free zone”?

  13. Jesusland says:

    So more dead Liberals. Ain’t multiculturalism just grand!

  14. John Johnson says:

    Why would the terrorists hit these liberals? Just saying.

  15. Jeff Kuryk says:

    The iPhone app “Danger Drill” can help potential victims survive mass casualty attacks.

  16. greatgosh says:

    Why so negative? With all of the Muslims in France there should have a real sense of peace and optimism.

  17. Steve L Reid says:

    Why be afraid of a peaceful loving religion!!

  18. Mike Arvand says:

    Studies show, the fewer muslims you have in any given area. The lesser the chances for islamic terrorism.

  19. D3F1ANT says:

    Hilarious that the Left–and especially the Hollywood elites–would complain that ANY anti-terror actions are hateful…until THEY want to protect themselves at THEIR big party! LOL! The hypocrisy from the left is simply BOUNDLESS!

    • RalphF says:

      Leftist policies are always meant for the little people, not the party elite. Just think Soviet Union, Maoist China, Cambodia, North Korea, Cuba… The people are meant to bear the brunt of Left-wing policies, not the leaders who live the good life.

  20. Shane says:

    These people are against borders so let them pat themselves on the back without the benefit of a secure border around themselves made up of police etc.

  21. Barry bin Inhalin says:

    Come on! The peace loving liberals have nothing to fear from the peace loving, Alluha Akbar types (Muslims to you and me).

  22. TexBill says:

    I don’t think the problem will be Islamic terrorists. Riots that might erupt would be from these Hollywood B-Rated Stars, already suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome additionally being subjected to a LePen victory. The poor snowflakes would be unhinged. If she were to win, Cannes needs to stock up on stuffed animals, soft blankets, coloring books, and maybe some therapy dogs.

  23. Uncle Al says:

    Why would Progressive Leftist Globalists advocating borderless nations swamped by refugees fear Islam, the religion of peace? Israel is submerged in Islamic neighbors and things have never been better.

  24. Aula says:

    I want this security on buses and trams. Nothing like seeing a bearded, white capped and white robed man holding a brown bottle and staring at everyone in the tram compartment directly in the face in one by one with hate on their face and knowing that there is no exit until the next tram halt. I thought my number was up. Then there was the time a capped one in very poor, dirty clothing carried two bags filled to the brim with phones and SIM cards. I just hoped he was part of a drug dealing gang. Life in NRW is a blast. My neighbor, in student government and talking up how great it is to have a “bunt” (colorful) society for the student paper, now has his own car, as does his sister. ;-)

  25. Matt says:

    It’s a soft target for terrorists… weak mush-minded individuals who don’t live in the real world. Indeed, they should be worried.

  26. PatrickJT says:

    “…stars like Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Isabelle Huppert, Kristen Stewart, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal, and director Sofia Coppola.” That’s a pretty second rate crowd. Well, it’s not the Oscars.

    • aeryn says:

      It’s actually a first rate crowd. Your knowledge about the Oscars (or Cannes, for that matter) is nul:

      Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal, Isabelle Huppert are Oscar nominees.
      Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Sofia Coppola are Oscar winners.

      You just had to go there! LOL

  27. Mitzy says:

    Can’t possibly be an attack at the festival. These are the people Hollywood loves and embraces.

  28. YarplyTwelve says:

    whats to fear? Terrorist seem to ignore scumpeople and kill only good people

    • What I will never understand is why in the world do these extremists think that they will get support from the rest of the world when they sneak around like cowards and kill innocent people, women and even children who have NOTHING to do with any of this. If they were real men they would meet on a battlefield and let the best force win if they’re so intent on proving whatever it is they feel so compelled to prove, and or jam down everyones throats, for what?

    • well that’s ignorant. Many of Hollywood’s richest do a great deal of work for the poor, for medical research, disabled, etc….. What’s a ‘good person’ in your eyes? Someone with unreasoning hatred for the followers of a specific religion? You’re more likely, in America, to be killed by a white young extremist Republican with a gun than a Muslim terrorist…. or even by lightning. Spend a lot of time worrying about being hit by lightning?

      • TexBill says:

        So that’s why our prisons are filled with white young extremist Republicans. I didn’t see that statistic. Could you please provide the source of your information?

      • Jennifer Ward says:

        Yes! So many Republicans are out there on the streets turning over cars and setting things ablaze. (sarcasm)

  29. Gun-free zones. Also known as free-fire zones. Go figure.

    • Aula says:

      Yes, lightning and right wingers with guns hiding behind brown faces are the ones screaming at me for money in the most threatening of tones when the sun begins to go down in my city in Germany. I am not as afraid of a bomb as I am of being pushed with a thin skull, knifed, or raped. It is such a pleasure to be on permanent third world holiday just going downtown, or even down the street by yet another “asylum” center with drunk men.

  30. David Russell Foley says:

    Only LePen has a chance of saving France. It may already be too late. Where is Charles Martel when France desperately needs him again to do the same job he did centuries ago.

  31. Scott Clark says:

    How ironic that the supporters of this jihadist insanity feel the heat a bit. Laughable…

  32. Stop Hypocrisy says:

    I’m always puzzled at why Variety, and The Wrap and other “Hollywood” publications are followed so passionately by rightwingers who claim to hate “Hollyweird.”

    It hasn’t been the refugees carrying out the attacks….nor “hundreds of Islamic terror attacks.”

    Of course terrorists, including any who are followers of Islam, should be stopped, with violence if necessary. But from Colombia to Honduras to Mexico to Pakistan to Nigeria to Somalia — the violence is from criminal gangs who use language, sometimes the language of religion including Islam, to recruit often mentally disturbed people to carry out the attacks. It is about MONEY — it’s vicious, murderous and wrong. But behind the scenes, the leaders are thinking about money. And OUR leaders won’t say that because they are also thinking about money. So all the leaders try to convince us that it is about morals or culture or religion–whether is attacks Great Satan America or all Muslims. FOLLOW THE MONEY!

    • RalphF says:

      You state, “I’m always puzzled at [sic] why Variety, and The Wrap and other ‘Hollywood’ publications are followed so passionately by rightwingers who claim to hate ‘Hollyweird.'”

      There is an old saying: “Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.” We have to know what our enemies are doing in order to survive.

    • Please grow up says:

      Yes. People who blow themselves up want “money”.

  33. Remember folks, intolerance of being slaughtered by islamoterrorists is racist.

  34. jnsesq says:

    What? Lefties getting their fill of “diversity”? Say it ain’t so!

  35. wentworth cheswell says:

    When these “famous” people want terrorists into these country, coming in under “refugee guise”, and they make us feel sorry for potential terrorists saying they only want a chance at a good life, it seems only fair that they should be hit by them. And when bullies pick on you, and you do nothing except hold up candles, heart hands, buy flowers and pay tribute to your fellow citizens for being targets of death and destruction, they should be hit, as liberals and progressives think, just to make it fair that is to the others of us who aren’t rich and famous and are offered up as targets of death and destruction by the liberal left and progressive way of thinking. They deserve it.

  36. Youknowimright says:

    So in a country with hundreds of Islamic terror events this article is worried about “rising far right politics”? Cmon man. The attendees absolutely know what they will be in fear about if they are in fear at all. Also, vote Le Pen and keep France as France should be. Also, bring back the 10-25m film. Those are the good ones. Thanks.

  37. Bill Jefferson says:

    Lemme guess – they’re worried about the usual Amish riff-raff?

  38. richardjstacy says:

    It’s so good to see the French voters divert the direction of their country from off the Cannes Cliff of depravity. Marine or Merkle will indeed be the next President of France. We all are praying for Le Pen’s success in Making France Great Again.

  39. Dan says:

    Every year they think they’re going to be attacked because they think they’re so important. Notice how nothing ever happens to them because nobody cares.

  40. laxmom3 says:

    As long as they keep allowing those Muslim terrorists to run roughshod over their country they can expect those attacks to continue.

  41. Asdfkj Koiasdk says:

    Vote Le Pen. Vive Le France.

  42. jasonn says:

    Security folks know what they need to do and JOB ONE is losing political correctness from their SOP so they can do what’s necessary to protect the folks.

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