Morelia fest faces outside violence

Grenade attack overshadows Mexico event

Film fests are used to hurdles, but Mexico’s Morelia fest faces an unnerving challenge: reassuring visitors of their safety in the wake of a bloody grenade attack that left eight people dead and more than 100 injured on Sept. 15.

Authorities say the public attack was highly unusual, in that drug-related violence is typically directed at rival gang members and local authorities.

But fest VP Cuauhtemoc Cardenas Batel says the event is bolstering security for its sixth edition significantly following the attack.

“We always required our press badges to have a photo and bar code, but now even special invited guests will be required (to have them),” Cardenas tells Variety, noting the challenge of obtaining compliance from some of the bigger names attending.

Jurors scheduled for the fest include Brit helmer Mike Hodges, thesps Julia Ormond, Cecilia Suarez and model-thesp Rebecca de Alba.

“This time, if you don’t have a photo ID badge, you won’t get in,” says Cardenas.

Piracy concerns had already led fest organizers to pull open-air events off the streets. Cardenas says the Cine Colonial venue, which is undergoing restoration ahead of the nation’s bicentennial in 2010, will host the public events, which should enable better screening of people at entry points.

Another possible measure includes restricting the area of Morelia’s Santiago Tapia Street, which is at the heart of the fest, to badge-holders only.

All the new security measures, however, have yet to be finalized, and Cardenas notes that parallel events not directly run by the fest will be in charge of their own security.

Fest runs Oct. 4-12.

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