Cannes Film Festival Panicks Over 'ISIS Militia' PR Stunt

Here's how an ill-thought out PR stunt and a bad practical joke terrified Cannes film festival guests.

An incredibly outrageous practical joke recently panicked guests at the Hôtel du Cap, a five-star luxury resort near Cannes, and for good reason.

Six actors, wearing khaki and with their faces hidden under black balaclavas, approached a seaside luxury hotel in a fast-moving inflatable flying a black flag, before one of them began marching up the steps toward frightened guests on Friday.

Many guests feared the stunt was a “terrorist attack” after mistaking the black flag as the one used by the Islamic State (ISIS).

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“We were caught off guard,” American publicist J.R. Savet told the Hollywood Reporter. “And then someone screamed and people jumped out of their chairs and started moving quickly to the swimming pool.”

“It was pretty scary. The fact that men appeared to be dressed like an ISIS-like militia group was quite shocking,” he added.

After the incident, a spokesman for France's National Police force said: "It was not a terrorist attack. It was a communication effort and publicity for an Internet site."

The guests, as it turned out, were merely victims of an ill-thought out advertising campaign.

A hotel spokesman called the incident “a bad joke — a really bad one.”

The Cannes Film Festival remains on high alert after an audit was conducted following last year's Paris terror attacks.