Cannes Security Crackdown Fails to Cramp Red Carpet Style

Julianne Moore Cannes - H 2016
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Despite a heightened police presence, extended security perimeter and added security checks, the black-tie crowd found accessing the opening-night screening relatively smooth.

The rain began to fall in Cannes at almost the same moment the red carpet began for the premiere of Woody Allen’s Cafe Society on Wednesday, and the rain proved more difficult to navigate for the gown-and-bow tie brigade than the new security protocols that were established following the heightened security alert in France.

Security surrounding the Palais and red carpet was omnipresent as the 69th Cannes festival kicked off.

Both regular municipal police and military security, scarily armed with machine guns, patrolled the Croisette, helped by motorcycle divisions, bomb-sniffing dogs and even a few mounted police.

By 4:30 p.m., police were closing the Croisette, moving people behind barricades and pushing pedestrians onto side streets at least half a block down from the city’s main drag. The perimeter was established at least 20 meters back.

“We have different bubbles of security and security gets stronger and stronger as you get closer to the Palais,” said Pierre Boutillon, deputy director of the municipal police. “As you get closer, you cannot access the next bubble unless you have proper credentials."

With 150 cops on duty and 14 vans of the CRS national police surrounding the area, teams were stationed on street corners and in front of the luxury shops that line the Croisette. Spectators craning for a peek at Woody Allen, Blake Lively and Kristen Stewart were penned into the center.

Municipal police have established a special car circulation system for the film festival that restricts vehicles to local Cannes residents or guests that have a badge or ticket, said Boutillon. Cars not bearing blue flags were not allowed anywhere near the red carpet, as police diverted traffic from the far side of the Hotel Majestic, ensuring cars did not stay still for long.

Those in cars were forced to turn before the Rue des Serbes next to the Majestic to make their way to the red carpet. Security kept crowds moving along before the red carpet opened at 6 p.m.

Some guests had been concerned they would be denied the chance to walk the red carpet because of the new perimeter, which pushed the entrance close to the Majestic.

“If you have a ticket you will be able to walk the red carpet,” said security guard Laurent G., who declined to give his last name.  

Six Oscar-style tent checkpoints have been established to keep the flow of people moving quickly through checks of tickets and IDs, bag searches, wanding with metal detectors and pat-downs as needed. The extra security didn't seem to be creating any bottlenecks or longer lineups as attendees were quickly scanned and passed through.

Dolled-up festival guests appeared to take the tighter security measures in stride.

“It's necessary, it's the least we can do,” said one man in a plaid tuxedo, who declined to give his name. “We wouldn't want to have less security and more risk.”

“The spirit of the festival is to have fun, it has always been something for the people, so we don’t ‘block’ anything but we have security checks, camera checks and security officers to make sure that nobody enters the forbidden zones,” said Boutillon. “The spirit of the festival will stay alive.”