Standing ovations at Cannes have become a festival tradition that both delights and infuriates cinephiles around the world. How can an audience really clap for more than 10 minutes? Does the continuous applause even mean a film is great? Are people really breaking out their stopwatches inside the theater to time the ovations?
Let’s get this out of the way now: Festival standing ovations can be somewhat genuine but also entirely manufactured. At Cannes, a camera crew records the cast and crew in attendance at each world premiere after the screening ends and their faces get projected onto the enormous Palais screen in real-time. The longer this camera feed lasts, the more an ovation can continue. If talent tears up or waves to the crowd on the screen, cheers often soar. A bigger cast usually creates a longer ovation as the camera pans to each person.
With that said, a film doesn’t break the 10-minute ovation mark without genuine appreciation. Throughout Cannes history, movies directed by Guillermo del Toro, Michael Moore, Nicolas Winding Refn, Quentin Tarantino and more have all brought Cannes audiences to their feet for the length of a short film.
Variety looks back at the some of the longest Cannes standing ovations in history below.