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Cannes: Restricted Airspace, Upgraded Firearms Help Beef Up Security as Festival Kicks Off

An anti-drone system, restricted airspace above the Cannes airport and upgraded firearms for police are part of the tightened security protocol that will be enforced throughout the Cannes Film Festival, which kicks off Wednesday.

Local authorities in Cannes unveiled their measures Tuesday as festival attendees began streaming in to the seaside city. The beefed-up security plan includes an anti-drone system that was previously used in Paris, which has suffered a number of devastating terror attacks in the last two years. Local police in Cannes are also now carrying new 9mm semi-automatic handguns with 17 rounds apiece.

“You have a higher risk level from terrorism in France. There have been three attacks in the last year and a half in public locations,” said Jeffrey A. Slotnick, risk consultant. “Any time you have a lot of notables, whether it’s actors or political dignitaries, there’s an elevated risk. They bring all the risks and threats directed at them along with them, so you have a compounded threat.”

Authorities said that none of the expected celebrities have asked for special security measures.

At the Majestic Hotel, a popular watering hole for high-profile guests, a spokesperson said that major Hollywood stars almost always come with their own private security details. If not, the Majestic provides personalized security. The hotel has also deployed plainclothes security personnel inside and around the site.

Other initiatives include imposing a no-fly zone for unauthorized aircraft above the small Cannes airport and the nearby Hotel du Cap. Last year, guests at the luxurious hotel just outside Cannes were terrified by the unexpected arrival of a group of men in military gear who turned out to be part of a publicity stunt.

Around the Cannes harbor, an area stretching from Palm Beach to Isle Sainte-Marguerite has been put under heavy security, authorities said at a news conference attended by Cannes Film Festival president Pierre Lescure, Cannes mayor David Lisnard, military representatives and regional officials.

They said that the city has been divided into four zones. Access has been restricted around the Palais, where celebrities walk the red carpet before screenings. A driver told Variety that a daily permit must be requested every morning at 8 a.m. in order to drop people off at the Palais. Drivers also have to open the trunks of their vehicles for inspection. Festival attendees must go through metal detector gates.

Barriers have been set up around the Croisette and surrounding streets in light of last summer’s devastating terror attack in nearby Nice, where 85 people were killed by a man who drove a cargo truck through Bastille Day crowds. Large concrete planters have been installed along the sidewalk leading to the Palais.

A third perimeter is meant to secure access points to Cannes, with local and national police handling controls. (The city is also spending $6 million on automatic retractable bollards at every entry point, but that operation is not yet finished.) The fourth zone is around the Cannes harbor.

Since the attack in Nice last July, Cannes has increased security for the various industry events that have taken place in the city, including Mipcom and MipTV. But the film festival is the biggest and starriest event on the calendar.

Lescure recently told Variety that he and his team would hold daily meetings with members of an elite unit of the French national police force, as well as local police and regional authorities, to discuss the security situation.

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