The decision of Cannes Film Festival organisers to share a video of their terrorism training drill has received a backlash from some attendees.
Security teams have been preparing for the possibility of a terror attack on the star-studded event, which kicks off in the French Riviera town in May. However, while footage of armed French police shooting blanks at fake terrorists was intended to reassure the public that the festival will be well-guarded, it has had the opposite effect among some after being shown on national television.
Japanese TV executive Yuhka Matoi is contemplating “staying away from the red carpet this year” in light of watching the video. “I only found out we might be in danger when I saw that,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking about it until then.”
Alexander van Dulmen, a German film CEO, questioned whether the exercise was merely a PR tactic. “I hope the security video wasn’t just a performance to convince us they are prepared,” he said.
French authorities are putting security high on the agenda after the recent attacks in Paris and Brussels. Claire-Anne Reix, president of the festival, has defended the 21 April terrorism exercise, which also featured ‘car bombs’ exploding and people lying on the red carpet steps of the Cannes Palais wearing red bibs meant to symbolise the wounded. More than 200 extras reportedly took part.
“The exercise is not reality but the exercise helps to prepare for the reality and to limit the risk,” Reix said. “It’s not frightening. What should be frightening is all the videos you see on the internet, not the coverage of an exercise.”
Security expert Nitzan Nuriel echoed Reix’s comments, telling The Hollywood Reporter that Cannes must be “prepared for what we consider a multi-terror event, not only in one place and not only in on hour but in a few places over a few hours”.
Most of the attendees the newspaper spoke to have no intention of changing their plans for fear of terrorism as there are “a lot of dangerous places” in the world and “if it happens, it happens”.
Over 200,000 people are expected to attend Cannes 2016, included hundreds of Hollywood hotshots and thousands of journalists and fans. Last year it was reported that 465 CCTV cameras had been installed to monitor the festival.
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