Entertainment

69th Cannes film festival opens amidst high security

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CANNES: Security at the Cannes film festival  will be intense as France is still facing a high risk of attack, said French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve. 

Around 45,000 people expected to visit the 69th edition of the May 11-22 event where celebrities from around the world will also be present.

French authorities are on high alert with some 400 security agents, hundreds of police deployed and special forces ready to intervene, Cazeneuve told a news conference.

France has been under a state of emergency since attacks claimed by Islamic State killed 130 people in November at entertainment venues in and around Paris including a concert hall, cafes and the Stade the France stadium.

“As we are about to open this festival and as I come here to check the security protocol, we are … facing a risk that is higher than ever,” Cazeneuve said.

“And against an enemy who is determined to strike at any time, we must be extremely vigilant at all times.”

France has already announced plans to extend the state of emergency to cover the Euro 2016 soccer tournament that begins next month and announced stricter security for venues.

In 1978, French authorities thwarted an attack on the film festival when they discovered a bomb on the Palais des Festivals stage.

WOODY ALLEN TOPS WITH CAFE SOCIETY

The cinema extravaganza opened with Allen’s “Cafe Society”, featuring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart in a story of a young man who arrives in Hollywood during the 1930s hoping to work in the film industry.

“When we will be old we will tell our children you know I was living at a time when Woody Allen’s films were coming out, and I think he’s one of the greatest auteurs,” festival director Thierry Fremaux told Reuters.

Although he has never been in competition, Allen is a Cannes favorite. This year will be the third time he has opened the festival, and several other familiar faces will be presenting their films in the main competition.

“This year the competition is mostly Cannes favorites, Cannes darlings,” Variety critic Jay Weissberg told Reuters.

“Fremaux is someone who likes to reward his friends, he’s somebody who likes to have the people he knows come back year after year after year.”

The Dardenne brothers, who present “The Unknown Girl”, have won the festival’s highest distinction, the Palme d’Or, twice.

Ken Loach, in Cannes with “I, Daniel Blake” has won it once, while Bruno Dumont; Jim Jarmusch, who is showing two films including a documentary on Iggy Pop; Park Chan-wook; and Pedro Almodovar have all previously scooped other honors.

Jarmusch’s films are two of five distributed by Amazon as the video streaming giant makes its first appearance in Cannes.

While the competition films bring much of the prestige, some of the red carpet glitz will surround some of the out of competition screenings, such as Steven Spielberg’s “The BFG”, based on the novel by Roald Dahl.

Oscar-winner Julia Roberts makes her Cannes debut in Jodie Foster’s out-of competition film “Money Monster”, alongside George Clooney.

“Twilight” star Stewart has been labeled queen of the festival by organizers as she features in “Cafe Society” as well as Olivier Assayas’s “Personal Shopper”, which is vying for the Palme d’Or crown.

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