“We stand with the French,” said one Cannes-bound exec in the wake of last week’s deadly shooting, which has heightened security fears.
Security remains on high alert all across France after last week’s attack in Paris, in which a gunman shot dead a policeman and seriously wounded two others before being killed himself.
The attack heightens concerns about security at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival, which kicks off in less than a month. Thousands of film industry professionals, as well as teeming crowds of fans and star-watchers, will descend on the small seaside city for two weeks of cinema celebration May 17-28.
But don’t expect anyone to be running scared.
“Of course we are going to Cannes, you can’t play into the hands of terrorists who are trying to scare us,” said Rudiger Boss, a German acquisitions executive, adding he trusted the French authorities would ensure security in Cannes would be tight.
“There were so many police everywhere last year, it’s really felt, and they are on alert,” said one French producer. “If someone targets the festival, they are prepared … The world is unsafe [but] I don’t feel ‘unsafe’ in Cannes.”
“I think no matter where you go these days you have to at least be aware of the general threat,” said one U.S. buyer. “I think Cannes is super aware so they will be extra vigilant.”
“Last year security was tight and we saw constant army presence throughout Cannes and I’m confident this year would be the same,” said Gianluca Chakra, managing partner at Dubai-based Middle East distributor Front Row Filmed Entertainment. “I’d be more scared to wander into a U.S. high school than to strolling down La Croisette [in Cannes].”
Cannes President Pierre Lescure has ensured visitors that security will again be “at its maximum” at this year’s event, noting that there were no serious incidents last year. “I hope to see the same result this year,” he added.
“I think the situation remains tense,” said Marco Mueller, a German film producer, noting fears that there could be more attacks in the wake of the French presidential election May 7, particularly if far-right candidate Marie Le Pen wins the second round of voting. But he echoed others in saying the Paris attack would not deter him from attending Cannes.
Some in the industry even see it as a duty to attend, if only to show solidarity with France and the values the terrorists seek to attack.
“The media and entertainment community must always lead the charge for freedom of expression and human rights around the world,” said Russell Levine, CEO of U.S. production and financing group Route One Entertainment.
Levine added: “We are sometimes the only community of influence who can speak out for others when the political environment becomes toxic and the political leadership has lost its way. France has been a beacon for democracy for much of its modern history, and Cannes is the perfect platform to reach out to the world and show resolve and demonstrate our community’s commitment to liberte, egalite and fraternite! We’ll stand with the French — they will do a great job of protecting everyone there.”
Alex Ritman and Rebecca Ford contributed to this report.