Although most people (save Tinkerbell and Rachel Berry) don’t actually need applause to live, the affirming act of hearing a group commend your craft can make life feel thoroughly worthwhile. When Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Bardo received a standing ovation lasting just over four minutes at Venice, the powerful emotional effect on the director was clear—whether he thrives on applause or not, Iñárritu was clearly deeply moved by the response.
As the screening concluded and the clapping finally, finally died now, Iñárritu appeared “visibly emotional” and “had tears in his eyes as he embraced his cast and producers,” Variety reports. Although the nearly three-hour film reportedly closed at 12:15 AM local time, there were “minimal walkouts” throughout and the “vast majority” of those who did hold the line “stayed to applaud [Iñárritu] right to the bitter end.”
The raucous acclaim was a welcome change from festival opener White Noise’s premiere, which reportedly only roused the crowd to a “tepid 150-second standing ovation.” An environment where anything less than three minutes of applause feels downright awkward sounds “Fifteen Million Merits”-level surreal and distressing, but hey, that’s showbiz?
Bardo is a return for Iñárritu to his Mexican roots, the very same that inspired and emboldened his 2000 directorial debut Amores perros. Written in conjunction with Nicolás Giacobone (who Iñárritu co-wrote 2014's Birdman with), the film follows Silverio, a Mexican documentarian and journalist who grapples with identity, relationships, and the very nature of his existence after returning to his home and family. The film stars Daniel Giménez Cacho and Griselda Siciliani.
Bardo’s Venice premiere also served as its world premiere, and the first time an audience of significant size and importance watched the film. The film is Iñárritu’s first since 2015's freezing, bloody epic The Revenant, which won Leonardo DiCaprio his first Best Actor after four previous nominations. Iñárritu also won Best Director for the film, following a similar 2014 one-two punch (when Iñarritu won Best Director and Michael Keaton won Best Actor for Birdman.)
Bardo will see both a cinematic and streaming release later this year.