September 1, 2006

Venice Film Festival beefs up security

By Eric J. Lyman

VENICE, Italy (Hollywood Reporter) - Security measures at
the Venice International Film Festival are tighter than ever,
though some officials said the greatest threat this year may
come from protesters rather than any kind of terrorist plot.

Bolstered by greater numbers than in past years, security
experts scan the beaches with metal detectors and examine
screening locations for explosives before performances begin. A
ring of steel surrounds the main venues, and metal detectors
and strict bag checks upon entry are par for the course.

Organizers wouldn't give precise numbers for the security
personnel on hand on the Lido, but they confirmed that they are
higher than in previous years.

The festival, which kicked off Wednesday, has never been
the target of any kind of significant calculated violence, but
"with the state of the world today, it's impossible to be too
careful," an official said.

While terrorists might be in short supply, advocates for
various causes are out in force.

Italian "No Global" protesters are using a small stretch of
beach near the Palazzo del Cinema festival complex as their
headquarters to protest the environmental threat represented by
plans to build mobile barriers to protect Venice from the
Adriatic Sea's tides.

"(The festival) is a high-visibility event, and that's a
great way to call attention to an important cause," said Carlo,
one of the anti-globalization protesters who only give his
first name.

They may have something else to protest. The local media
reported that workers from a Dow Chemical plant on the lagoon
have threatened to disrupt the festival at some point to
protest plans to close the petrochemicals facility -- a closure
the "No Global" protesters likely would applaud.

Even the Italian porn industry is reported to be preparing
its own disruption. A colorful producer of Italian soft porn,
Tinto Brass, said he would hold a parallel festival featuring
his latest skin flick on a section of the Lido.

And the Italian media separately reported that an Italian
gay rights group said it would screen a handful of
soon-to-be-released gay films at a nearby cinema. Police
described both events as "potential disruptions."

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter