The Mayor of Cannes on the Festival, Celebrities and the Town's Hidden Hot Spots (Q&A)

 

This story first appeared in the May 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter.

While he is visible each evening of the Cannes Film Festival standing next to festival president Gilles Jacob at the top of the Palais' red-carpet steps, Cannes Mayor Bernard Brochand has more to do than just shake hands with celebrities. With 200,000 visitors descending on his hometown for the $26 million event, Brochand has his hands full each May, when 06400 becomes the hottest ZIP code in the film world.

Brochand, who began his career working at Procter & Gamble before entering politics, spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about hosting the biggest film event of the year, his favorite star encounter and why you may want to watch out for snipers on your way to the Palais.

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: There's a picture of you and Barack Obama taken during the president's 2011 visit to Cannes hanging on your wall. What was it like meeting him?

Bernard Brochand: Obama was great. I welcomed him into my office. He said to me: "I know you worked for American companies. Procter & Gamble -- wow, that's the best. Are you happy to be mayor of Cannes now?" Then he said something typically American: "Because if you aren't happy, please come back to the States."

THR: What has been your most memorable encounter at the festival?

Brochand: Sharon Stone came to Cannes a few years ago as a jury member. Her team called to say she didn't want to be in a hotel and could I make an exception and put her in a villa. So I rented her a villa and welcomed her when she came. Every night, when I was on the top of the Palais steps, she'd throw her arms around my neck and say, "Oh, my love, you are so nice, I want to stay in this house every night." We spent some very special moments together, but that was exceptional. It's the last time I'll rent a villa to anyone, even famous.

THR: What other film personalities have impressed you?

Brochand: Harvey Weinstein is a genius. He comes every year.

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THR: The population of Cannes triples during the festival. What security measures do you have to put in place?

Brochand: Cannes is the most protected city there is. After 9/11, Americans were afraid to travel, so we really had to reinforce our guards. We have one camera for every 230 people. There are 250 municipal police officers, 200 national officers and then double that for the festival.

THR: Have there ever been moments when security was threatened?

Brochand: During the scandal in 2010 with Rachid Bouchareb's Outside the Law [which showed French troops firing on Algerians in 1945], protestors gathered outside of the Palais. We had snipers on the roof of the Majestic just in case anything got out of hand. When things like that happen, the city of Cannes is responsible for security, not the festival.

THR: What are your favorite spots in the city?

Brochand: The beaches! I like the Bijou Plage, the Plage du Festival and Le Groeland because the owner is a soccer player and I'm a fan. You can also find me at the Grand Hotel, Le Bar at the Carlton, at the Majestic or at Le Club by Albane.

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