Cannes: Top French Minister Briefs Festival Officials, Hotels on Extra Security Measures

Palais Security - H 2016
Pamela Mcclintock

Separately, Cannes Mayor David Lisnard warned Monday that local police are being ordered to carry out random searches of people on the street.

Security concerns are taking a front-seat row at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival.

France's Minister of Interior Bernard Cazeneuve traveled to Cannes on Monday to brief festival organizers, city officials and businesses on what extra security measures are being planned for this year's event, which gets underway Wednesday.

Separately, Cannes Mayor David Lisnard warned Monday that the police are being ordered to carry out random searches of people on the street.

The meeting at the Palais — headquarters of the famed film festival — comes as France continues to operate under a state of emergency following the Paris terrorist attacks in November.

While the government has said there are no specific threats against the fest, no one is taking any chances and there are already signs of increased security in Cannes, from the train station to the front of the Palais, where the event's renowned red-carpet events will take place.

"He will explain to us what the French government has decided to reinforce in terms of security in Cannes," said one person who was invited to take part in the meeting.

"There will be drastic security measures at the foot of the red carpet. Only the stars associated with the official films will be taken to the bottom of the red carpet. The rest will have to be diverted to another road and walk. And everyone is being warned to get there in advance," the person said.

A security force numbering about 500 will be responsible for guarding the Palais itself. Following Monday's meeting, state official Adolphe Colrat will announce the number of other police and paramilitary officers being drafted to help in other parts of Cannes.

Interior Minister Cazeneuve tweeted a photo of himself at the security meeting on Monday.

In an interview with French TV following the meeting, Cazeneuve said police would set up an operational command post in Cannes for the duration of the festival. There will be extra security on the beaches as well as dedicated units stationed on roads leading into Cannes. Cazeneuve, however, declined to go into substantial detail on other plans, saying the effectiveness of many security measures "lies in their discretion."

Earlier this month, the city on the Cote d'Azur staged a dramatic test run of what might happen if terrorists target the stars, film industry execs and thousands of fans who descend on the Croisette every year. A video of the exercise, which featured masked gunmen with machine guns storming the red-carpeted steps of the Cannes Palais as shots rang out, played on repeat on French television and circulated widely on the internet.

The purpose, according to Palais president Claire-Anne Reix, was to show fest attendees “that we are training, that we are preparing, that we are ready. It’s not frightening. What should be frightening is all the videos you see on the internet, not the coverage of an exercise.”

The real-life security measures being imposed include no-fly zones in certain areas and sea restrictions.

And the fest's Directors' Fortnight section previously announced it has had to cut 17 hours of screenings to accommodate the new security protocols attendees will have to go through to access the cinemas.

Festival president Pierre Lescure has insisted Cannes must strike a balance between security and freedom of movement.