Cannes: Hollywood's Fears Amid Warnings of Possible ISIS Attacks on Euro Beach Destinations

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French gendarmes took part in a mock terrorist attack exercise April 21 in front of Cannes’ Palais des Festivals.

"I’d be happy to see dogs roaming the lobby of the Carlton," says Sony Pictures Classics' Tom Bernard as the city calls on a former Israeli military commander, 200 armed police, undercover cops and the use of 500-plus security cameras to protect the 200,000 people who will attend the festival.

"My big question is: Are the hotels going to step up security?" says Sony Pictures Classics co-president Tom Bernard, who admits he's skittish about the threat of a terrorist attack during the festival. "I'd be happy to see dogs roaming the lobby of the Carlton."

A simulated terrorist attack April 21 in Cannes — followed by the wide circulation of a video of the exercise — has left some festivalgoers feeling more vulnerable, especially in light of reports that the Islamic State has set its sights on European beach destinations. But Palais president Claire-Anne Reix dismissed concerns over the video that showed faux terrorists detonating car bombs and masked gunmen storming the Palais steps. "If people see that we are training, that we are preparing and that we are ready, that should make them feel more secure," she tells THR. The Palais itself will have added security as well as metal detectors for every entrant.

But the exercise, which also had simulated car bombs explode in various locations, was geared toward the city itself, preparing Cannes for a "multi-terror event" that could hit multiple targets around town over several hours and not necessarily be centered on the Palais. Adds counterterrorism expert Nitzan Nuriel: "The line has shifted. Things that we used to do in the previous festivals are probably no longer rele­vant." Nuriel, a former military commander and director at the Israeli National Security council, was brought in by new mayor David Lisnard to overhaul security protocol.

The exercise, spearheaded by Lisnard, has led to increased coordination for city, regional and national police, as well as prepping Palais security, local firefighters and medical services to act as first-responder teams.

And as if to calm any of Bernard's jitters, Nitzan noted that hotels have been active in the discussions and planning.

"The festival is always a challenge for logistics and security, this year even more so," Lisnard tells THR. "We are very accustomed to threats."

Cannes has upward of 200 armed police officers — a number Nuriel calls "enough" to protect the 200,000 people that descend on the city for the festival — and will bring in hundreds of National Police and Gendarmerie for the festival. Undercover cops and more than 500 security cameras will survey the crowds. There also will be an increased number of security guards as well as additional stationary and handheld metal detectors at festival entrances.

Cannes already had stepped up security following a series of high-profile heists in 2014 and the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks in 2015. Since attacks in November that killed 130 people throughout Paris, France has been operating under a state of emergency that significantly increased police powers nationwide and made armed soldiers a routine sight at landmarks around the country. That law will last until May 26, just a few days after the Palme d'Or is handed out.

Added Nuriel: "Security is not only a slogan, it's something you can feel."

Additional reporting by Tatiana Siegel.

This story first appeared in the May 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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