The Cannes Film Festival will not be derailed by a rowbetween the French government and showbiz workers protesting changes tounemployment benefits, organisers said on Sunday.
The departure of a number film reels for Cannes was delayedfor several hours at the weekend after a hundred protesters blockaded the Pariswarehouse where they were stored, sparking fears that festival itself might bein peril. But its managing director ruled that out.
"There is absolutely no question of cancelling thefestival," Veronique Cayla told France Inter radio. Cannes is due to openon Wednesday, closing on May 23.
A spokeswoman for the festival directors told Reuters thelast films were on route to the French Riviera.
"We were confident that the entertainment workers had nodesire to prevent the festival's projections from going ahead; there have beenclear declarations from them about that," the Cannes spokeswoman said.
"The next stage will be a meeting between the festivaldirectors and the workers," she added. That meeting is due to take placenext week, before Wednesday's opening ceremony.
The feud between the government and showbiz workerscancelled France's world-renowned Avignon theatre festival last summer, and thegovernment has appealed to the protesters not to hijack Cannes this year.
Workers in the entertainment industry, whose labour isusually seasonal or part-time, are opposed to a reform set out by thegovernment last June that would oblige them to work more hours and claim fewerunemployment benefits.
The protesters want a draft law on their unemployment rightsto be cancelled and negotiations reopened.
Meanwhile, security preparations at Cannes are underway todeal with possible protests - or worse.
The train bombings in Madrid two months ago have also promptedorganisers to increase security.
More than 1,000 police officers - including bomb squads anddog handlers - will be deployed.
Police commissioner Andre Trouve said: "We are asmobilised as for last year, even more so, because the international situationremains complicated and some protests also look likely."
Police patrols will guard water access to Cannes' port andbeaches while trains and railway stations are under tight surveillance.
Traffic will be partly blocked during red carpet arrivals,and festival-goers will be searched.
This year's event is expected to attract an invasionof stars, including Brad Pitt, Charlize Theron, Quentin Tarantino, Sean Penn,Cameron Diaz and Tom Hanks.