The Cannes Film Festival is a celebration of some of the most forward-thinking movies in the contemporary industry, as well as one of the most peculiar events in every movie lover’s calendar. Home to several strange traditions, not least the mass walkouts of controversial feature films and the extended standing ovations that establish the best movies of the festival, Cannes has long been considered cinema’s stuffiest event.
With the boldest headlines of the festival consistently going to the films that were clapped and booed with the most enthusiasm, the length to which Cannes audiences will clap and cheer in order to get their opinion across is quite staggering.
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 Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy drama Pan’s Labyrinth. Starring Ivana Baquero, Doug Jones and Sergi López in a story of war and imaginative escapism, it’s hard to believe that the Cannes crowd managed to clap for quite that long without the need for at least a two-minute break.
Though the applause for Pan’s Labyrinth is extraordinary, the length of the clapping wasn’t unprecedented, with several other movies also earning a standing ovation over 10-minutes long throughout the years.
In second place on the peculiar winners list is the Michael Moore documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, a film that broke down the failures of President George W. Bush in the war against terror. Clocking in 20 minutes of Cannes applause at the 2004 festival, there must be something about the American filmmaker’s style that warrants clapping, with his 2002 movie Bowling for Columbine also appearing in the top 10 list thanks to a 13 minute clap-a-thon.
Whilst the aforementioned films are regarded as contemporary classics, the remainder of the top 10 list throws in several significant surprises, with the Cannes audience seemingly choosing which film to give a lengthy clap to at random.
For example, whilst Pan’s Labyrinth and Fahrenheit 9/11 are the only films to break the 20 minutes barrier, the decidedly average Jeff Nichols film Mud came unusually close in 2012, clocking in 18 minutes of clap time. Similarly, Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2016 movie The Neon Demon also put up good numbers with a 17-minute applause, whilst the Zac Efron disappointment The Paperboy recorded 15-minutes.
Take a look at the full list of the ten longest standing ovations in Cannes history, below, and marvel at the true peculiarity of Cannes’ strangest tradition.
The 10 longest standing ovations in Cannes history:
- Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, 2006) – 22 minutes
- Fahrenheit 9/11 (Michael Moore, 2004) – 20 minutes
- Mud (Jeff Nichols, 2012) – 18 minutes
- The Neon Demon (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2016) – 17 minutes
- Capernaum (Nadine Labaki, 2018) – 15 minutes
- The Paperboy (Lee Daniels, 2012) – 15 minutes
- Bowling for Columbine (Michael Moore, 2003) – 13 minutes
- The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2012) – 12 minutes
- Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009) – 11 minutes
- BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee, 2018) – 10 minutes