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Security was tight, strict and omnipresent on the Cannes red carpet Wednesday night as the 70th edition of the film festival opened with Arnaud Desplechin’s Ismael’s Ghosts.
Cannes guests braved a never-before-seen cordon of security measures, with multiple ticket checks, before passing through a metal detector to be allowed near the red carpet. Police — both local Cannes cops and SWAT-style militarized officers — patrolled the Croisette bearing 9mm pistols and machine guns and wearing bulletproof vests.
A parade of police vans lined the street starting two blocks before the Palais, where the opening ceremony will take place. Officers were directing traffic, only allowing official festival cars, marked by stickers on the interior of the windshield, to pass through.
Security at the entrance remained similar to last year with only one metal detector under each tent, causing a bit of a backup close to 6:30 p.m. After guests passed through the detector, two guards in the orchestra entrance used a detector wand on each guest, a new measure introduced this year. At the top of the red-carpet steps, there were two additional guards wanding guests as well. The procedure was thorough, as even the longest dress trains got completely “swiped” before attendees were let through.
Security has already been in the spotlight ahead of Wednesday’s opening night following various attacks and incidents in France over the past year. Cannes mayor David Lisnard and Cannes festival president Pierre Lescure held a press conference on Tuesday, touting heightened security measures, adding to what has already been a dominant conversation of this year’s festival and the months leading up to Wednesday night.
Among the new measures taken by local officials is a nationwide first: Local Cannes police officers are carrying 9mm handguns and wearing bulletproof vests. Further, 400 extra officers are flooding the city to monitor any suspicious activity while other experts are monitoring more than 500 closed-circuit cameras from a 24-hour feed of the city. Any large bags spotted along the waterfront are also subject to search.
What hasn’t changed is Cannes’ notorious red-carpet fashion police. Eagle-eyed security teams were on hand to pull out and turn away guests for such cardinal offenses as wearing too-short socks or having a suit of an insufficiently dark shade. Unlike previous years, however, The Hollywood Reporter did not see any incidents of women being turned away for not wearing heels.
The stars of Ismael’s Ghosts — Marion Cotillard and Charlotte Gainsbourg — along with competition jury head Pedro Almodovar and jury members including Jessica Chastain, Will Smith, Fan Bingbing and Paolo Sorrentino came out for the film’s world premiere.
Italian-French actress Monica Bellucci is serving as master of ceremonies of the opening night and will also oversee the closing ceremony.
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