Cannes Crackdown: 465 Closed-Circuit Cameras, SWAT-Style Cops Part of Massively Beefed-Up Security
Just months after France suffered attacks in Paris, armed undercover agents and a stunning level of surveillance mean a red carpet on red alert.
This story first appeared in the May 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
When Cannes rolls out the red carpet May 13, it also will be on red alert. The festival long has been a target for petty crooks and big-time criminals drawn in by the rich and famous that descend on the city each May, but security this year is taking a more serious turn. Following the gruesome Charlie Hebdo shootings in and around Paris that shocked the world in January — and a subsequent series of several smaller attacks against religious targets — the country is on edge.
"Since the January attacks, we are at the highest level of security at public events or in public spaces," says Jean-Charles Brisard, a security expert and the chairman of the Paris-based Center for the Analysis of Terrorism. Under the nationwide alert, bag searches are commonplace at venues as varied as movie theaters and public buildings, a relatively new development in France.
There are no specific known threats to the fest, but having the world's spotlight on Cannes' celebrities could be a liability. "These are very sensitive potential targets, so the security will be higher than at any other event during the year," says Brisard. That translates to up to 400 SWAT-style CRS officers descending on the city to beef up patrols of the municipal police, who will be on daily duty for the festival's 12 days — new police chief Philippe Jos has forbidden officers from taking time off. Plainclothes national police also will be on patrol, as will an additional 400 private security guards. They'll be licensed to carry — a rare arrangement in gun-shy France.
Mayor David Lisnard will meet with the various security personnel for a briefing every morning, his office tells THR, and representatives from the hotels will supply information about the stars and VIPs present on their property that day. "Safety is always a big stake for the festival, not only because of the famous people, but the number of visitors every year creates pressure on the police," says city communications director Audrey Bel. (The tiny seaside town's population triples for the fortnight around the fest.) "But security around the Palais is specifically increased."
The city also has beefed up its CCTV system with 465 cameras — that's one for every 156 residents, the highest ratio in the country. Many are pointed at the high-traffic Croisette to ensure that everyone is on camera, not just the stars.