Parallel Mothers: Almodovar’s Smash Hit

‘Parallel Mothers’ Earns a 5-Minute Standing Ovation, as Penelope Cruz, Pedro Almodóvar Wear Masks

PPedro Almodovar Penelope Cruz

At the Venice Fest, the masks stay on, even during the standing ovation.

That became protocol during the opening night movie, Parallel Mothers, on Wednesday night in Italy.

Director Pedro Almodóvar and his muse Penelope Cruz didn’t so much as touch their face coverings during an enthusiastic five-minute standing ovation at the Sala Grande for the Spanish film.

Note: Almodovar is the subject of my latest book.

Gay Directors, Gay Films? Almodovar, Haynes, Van Sant, John Waters.  by Emanuel Levy (Columbia University Press)

Cruz seemed to look teary-eyed at one point at the crowd’s enthusiastic reception for the film.

The 78th Venice Film Fest kicked off with some changes, having already established itself as the biggest film gathering in the world in 2020 during the earlier days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, the festival continued adhering to strict rules, including requiring proof of vaccination from attendees and only filling every other seat in screenings for social distancing.


That caused a crush for tickets for the premiere of Parallel Mothers. There were some impressive A-list stars who stayed on their feet, and remained masked for more than two hours.

This year’s Venice jury — headed by president Bong Joon Ho and including Cynthia Erivo and Chloé Zhao — joined the applause, as did Italy’s president Sergio Mattarella, whose entrance shortly after 7 p.m. was met with a standing ovation of its own.

Gay Directors, Gay Films? By Emanuel Levy (Columbia University Press, August 2015)

In Parallel Mothers, Almodóvar’s seventh collaboration with Cruz, the actor plays Janis, a successful fashion photographer who finds herself dealing with moral dilemma after she becomes a mother.

In Almodóvar fashion, there are plenty of soapy plot twists in the drama, which received good reviews out of Venice.

The evening began with a short speech from Bong. “We all believe that Covid will be over soon, but cinema will be with us forever,” said the director of Parasite.

Roberto Beningi received the festival’s career achievement award, which was presented to him by Jane Campion. The “Life is Beautiful” director and actor stormed the stage like it was the 1999 Oscars.

“Parallel Mothers” opens in the US by Sony Pictures Classics on December 24.