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The movie that earned the longest standing ovation at Cannes Film Festival


Showing off the finest films up for grabs for distributors, the Cannes Film Festival is a celebration of some of the most forward-thinking movies in the contemporary industry. Taking place over the course of 12 days, the festival attracts movie lovers from across the world, a migration of people that unfortunately includes stuffy critics and purveyors of pure cinema that help to uphold Cannes’ pretentious air. 

Whilst the greatest film festival on the globe, Cannes is also a peculiar entity, home to several strange traditions, not least the mass walkouts of controversial feature films and the extended standing ovations that bookend the best movies of the festival. 

Every year, the biggest headline of the festival is always handed to the film which received the longest standing ovation, with the Quentin Tarantino movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, starring Margot Robbie and Leonardo DiCaprio, snatching the front pages in 2019 for its seven-minute applause. Though, in comparison with the longest standing ovations of the Cannes Film Festival, these are pitiful numbers. 

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Clocking in applause at a comically long duration of 22 minutes, the prize for the movie which has received the longest standing ovation goes to the 2006 Guillermo del Toro fantasy drama Pan’s Labyrinth. Starring Ivana Baquero, Doug Jones and Sergi López in this story of war and imaginative escapism, it’s hard to believe that the Cannes crowd didn’t suffer from a collective bout of carpal tunnel shortly after the applause finished. 

Whilst the applause of Pan’s Labyrinth is extraordinary, the length of the clapping wasn’t exactly unprecedented, with five other movies also earning a standing ovation over 15-minutes long throughout the years. 

In second place on the fruitless list is the Michael Moore documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 which broke down the failures of President George W. Bush in the war against terror, and clocked in 20 minutes of Cannes applause at the 2004 festival. 

Whilst Pan’s Labyrinth and Fahrenheit 9/11 are the only films to break the 20 minutes barrier, the Jeff Nichols film Mud came unusually close in 2012, clocking in 18 minutes, despite the decidedly average quality of the film itself, starring Matthew McConaughey in the lead role. Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2016 movie The Neon Demon also put up good numbers with a 17-minute clap-a-thon, whilst the 2018 film Capernaum and the Zac Efron disappointment The Paperboy recorded 15-minutes a-piece. 

Though, as is a fact of life, size isn’t everything, with several other films in movie history clocking in shorter applause time, but a more enthusiastic response overall. For example, the Elton John biopic Rocketman may have received a mere four minutes of clap time, but reports from several publications said the applause was louder, whoops were bigger and the atmosphere was “electric”.  

In the fight for clapping supremacy, who will be the victor in 2022? Ruben Ostlünd is in for a shout for Triangle of Sadness, but so is Park Chan-Wook’s Decision to Leave and also Kelly Reichardt’s Showing Up. Forget the Palme d’Or, this is the real competition right here. 

And if you’re in the mood for clapping, take a look at the iconic standing ovation for Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, below.