UPDATED with fest statement: Festival officials released the following statement: “Because of a doubt about an object in the Debussy Auditorium, the security protocol was engaged and the foyer of the theater evacuated in a precautionary measure. The verification process quickly allowed the doubt to be lifted and everything went back to order.”
Previous: As the Saturday evening press screening of Michel Hazanavicius’ Competition title Redoubtable was about to begin, the Debussy Theater here in Cannes was evacuated when a “suspicious parcel” was found. From the scene, Deadline’s Pete Hammond says employees left the screening room while the press was pushed “way” out into the street. Security was telling people to “get back, get back.”
Police arrived on the scene as did Cannes Film Festival chief Thierry Frémaux while the “massive crowd” waited outside, uncertain of what the urgency was. Ultimately, the matter was safely resolved and press was admitted to the building.
This resulted in a 43-minute delay of the film’s start. Hammond says, “I’ve never been in a screening where it’s been delayed in this kind of situation.”
Sadly for those of us who live in Europe, this is an unsurprising circumstance. The Cannes Film Festival has increased security this year, installing giant flower pots and chains along the Croisette — particularly in response to the Bastille Day massacre in Nice last July which saw a truck mow down dozens who were leaving a fireworks display.
The security system around the Cannes fest is under the authority of the Alpes Maritimes Prefect and the mayor of Cannes, and through the activation of the various public services concerned (National and Municipal Police, National Gendarmerie, Maritime, air and mine clearance).
Since the safety of the festival is considered a priority by both the State and the City Council, significant additional resources have been allocated this year. Various armed security forces are now a familiar sight; the fest has said of its plan this year that they are deployed “in concentric circles, with increasing concentration around the Palais. Surveillance of the sea and air is also enhanced.” Helicopters are roundly buzzing over the bay.
The measures have been adopted to ensure maximum safety for festival-goers and to ensure, as far as possible, that the smooth running of the event and the flow of traffic are not disrupted. However, checks within the festival area are reinforced.
Tonight’s screening delay follows a technical blip on Competition film Okja earlier this week. Security also delayed the first press screening for Amazon’s Wonderstruck on Thursday, which started 12 minutes late for the usually right-on-the-button fest. Guards and security personnel plus metal detectors at the Palais, long lines, meticulous bag checks and extra wanding are understandable given the state of alert that persists in France.
Redoubtable, from The Artist helmer Hazanavicius, stars Louis Garrel, Stacy Martin and Berenice Bejo. It’s a romantic drama set in Paris 1967 during the production of La Chinoise when director Jean-Luc Godard falls in love with 17-year-old actress Anne Wiazemsky.