PARIS — In light of the recent terror attacks that have shaken Paris and Brussels, the Cannes Film Festival will enforce tighter security protocols that will have a direct impact on programming.
Directors Fortnight, the program running alongside the Cannes Film Festival, will screen 18 feature-length films — fewer than usual — because of exceptional security measures, according to Edouard Waintrop, the program’s artistic topper. Asked about this year’s reduced lineup, Waintrop said 17 hours of screenings were lost due to screenings that will take place before each film presentation. The Directors Fortnight screenings take place at the Theatre Croisette in the JW Marriott hotel.
“If the numbers have fallen this year, it’s not out of choice, but rather necessity,” explained Waintrop.
Cannes Film Festival, meanwhile, gave no indication of lost screening hours during its press conference last week. In fact, this year’s lineup is more robust than in previous years. The competition itself boasts 20 films, compared with 19 films last year and 18 in 2014. Cannes’ artistic director Thierry Fremaux has also said two or three films could be added to the official selection.
During the festival’s press conference, president Pierre Lescure said the fest, which is responsible for ensuring security in and around the Palais, has hired 500 highly-trained security agents and will be communicating daily with local and regional authorities to adjust the protocols as needed throughout the festival.
Meanwhile, the city of Cannes has unveiled a plan for a massive terror attack simulation which will take place Thursday — less than two weeks before the kick-off of the festival — at the Palais and another site near Cannes. The simulated operation, orchestrated by the Cannes City Hall, will involve 200 civilians, local police, military forces, firefighters, medical staff and hospital workers.
Like the rest of France, Cannes started ramping up security last year after the Charlie Hebdo attacks and after the Nov. 13 attacks which led France president Francois Hollande to declare a state of emergency.
Due to the fact that it’s one of France’s most heavily touristed towns and home to a flurry of high-professional confabs such as the film festival, MipTV, Mipcom and Midem, Cannes is considered to be one of France’s safest cities with 200 armed police officers and nearly 500 surveillance cameras.
Earlier this year, Cannes mayor David Lisnard also commissioned an audit from Israeli counter-terrorism expert Nitzan Nuriel, and has been strengthening control of every entry point to the town, including maritime checks on Cannes bay, said a spokesperson at the Alpes-Maritimes district headquarters, which has jurisdiction over Cannes and Nice.
After the Brussels attacks, the U.S. State Department issued a security alert to U.S. citizens planning to travel to Europe that expires June 20.