Nine minutes was ultimately the call for Flowers Of The Killer Moon, enough to mark a high for this year’s festival. Scorsese’s period epic draw the kind of headlines that every film wants out of Cannes. Movies don’t get second chances for a first impression, after all.
And for those who experience such responses first-hand, it can be deeply emotional. In 2015, Todd Haynes’ luminous ’50s romance Carol launched in Cannes with a 10-minute standing ovation.
“I don’t think we put on the poster that there was a 20-minute standing ovation at Cannes,” says Christine Vachon, the film’s producer. “But when it happens, and a movie is celebrated after a lot of hard work, of course it’s incredibly gratifying.”
The longest Cannes ovation on record belongs to Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, which scored a 22-minute feting, enough time to watch an episode of Seinfeld without the ads. Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, on its way to winning the Palme d’Or at the 2004 Cannes, was applauded for 20 minutes. Jeff Nichols’ Mud was cheered for 18 minutes in 2012.
A stopwatch-breaking ovation doesn’t always translate to quality. Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy isn’t exactly considered a modern-day classic, but it managed a 15-minute standing O in 2012.
Cannes has long been known for its passionate responses. Some hugely revered films, like Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, have famously been booed at the festival. But boos are more likely to be heard in the press screenings than the gala formal-attire premieres. At those, a standing ovation is more or less a matter of etiquette.
At this year’s festival, the most star-studded films have gone over well. Haynes’ May December, with Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore, nearly matched the response to his Carol, with an eight-minute ovation. Karim Aïnouz’s historical drama Firebrand, starring Alicia Vikander and Jude Law, clocked in with the same. Vikander called the high-decibel roar of the crowd a stirring, unforgettable experience.
“I was shivering a bit,” Vikander said. “It really gets to you.”