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Cannes Film Festival's record breaking moments — including the longest standing ovation

The French film festival has a number of quirks to it

Bryony Gooch
US Writer
May 22, 2024
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Cannes Film Festival is one of the foremost major film festivals in the world, and this year is no different with a bumper list of stars attending. With Greta Gerwig heading up the role as jury president, the youngest since Sophia Loren took on the role aged 31 in 1966, this year there are a number of firsts taking place.

Kevin Costner premiered Horizon: An American Saga, his first directorial project since 2003, which received a seven minute standing ovation. Sounds intense, right? It's actually on par with the standing ovation received by Francis Ford Coppola, who showed Megalopolis, his first film since 2011. 

Standing ovations are one of the many unusual traditions of Cannes - most films receive one, with the shortest lasting approximately three minutes. With an incredibly active audience, it's not unusual for people to walk out or boo.

But who holds the record for the longest standing ovation? And will there be any record breaking moments? 

Here are Cannes' biggest records to break.


Director Guillermo Del Toro and cast members Maribel Verdun, Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil, Sergi Lopez and Alfonso Cuaron at the photocall of "El laberinto del fauno" during the 59th Cannes Film Festival. (Photo by Eddy LEMAISTRE/Corbis via Getty Images)© Eddy LEMAISTRE

The longest standing ovation

The seven minute standing ovations received by Kevin Costner and Francis Ford Coppola this year can only be seen as light work when compared to the longest standing ovation.

Pan's Labyrinth received a rapturous 22 minute long standing ovation in 2006. While it didn't win the Palme D'Or, going to Ken Loach for The Wind That Shakes the Barley, it's certain that director Guillermo Del Toro has never forgotten the incredible reception to his film.


Julie Burns and Ken Burns during 2007 Cannes Film Festival - "The War" Cocktail Party at Budweiser Big Eagle Yacht in Cannes, France. (Photo by John Shearer/WireImage)© John Shearer

The longest running screen time

American documentary The War ran for an astonishing 870 minutes - or 14.5 hours. Nowadays, the 2007 documentary by Ken Burns is split into seven parts, but during the festival it had to be split into four Special Screenings.


FRANCE - MAY 24:  55th Cannes film festival: Photo-call of "Irreversible" In Cannes, France On May 24, 2002-Vincent Cassel, Monica Bellucci.  (Photo by Pool BENAINOUS/DUCLOS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)© Pool BENAINOUS/DUCLOS

The biggest walk out

Attracting film lovers from across the globe, Cannes isn't afraid to show films that might shock viewers - and with an incredibly active audience, it's no surprise when people walk out. 

The biggest walkout in the history of the festival happened during Gaspar Noé's 2002 film Irréversible, which depicted a gruesome 10-minute rape scene that left the victim, played by Monica Bellucci, in a coma. During the violent film, 250 people left and 20 people fainted. Things got so bad that the fire brigade was called in.


CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 2001: Awarded director Michael Haneke and awarded actors Isabelle Huppert and Benoit Magimel attends the 54th Cannes Film Festival on May 2001, in Cannes, France. (Photo by FocKan/WireImage)© Foc Kan

The film to win the most awards

This honour is shared across three different films, as Barton Fink (1991), Humanité, (1999), and The Piano Teacher (2001) all won three awards at the festival.

Barton Fink won the Palme d’Or, Best Director and Best Actor, while Humanité and The Piano Teacher both took home the Grand Prix, Best Actor and Best Actress.


CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 25: Director Bong Joon-Ho, winner of the Palme d'Or award for his film "Parasite" poses at the winner photocall during the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival on May 25, 2019 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)© Pascal Le Segretain

The highest grossing Palme D'Or winner

Bong Joon-ho's Parasite not only made history as the first non-English-language film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, but it's also the highest grossing Palme D'Or winner with a global box office takeaway of $262 million.

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