The painted bird (Credit: TIFF)

About 40 people reportedly left the screening of the controversial holocaust drama The Painted Bird at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The festival organizers warned the participants that the film, an adaptation of Jerzy Kosinski's novel from 1965 by Czech director Vaclav Marhoul, was "very difficult to see".

Still, about 30 people left in the first hour, and a dozen others left in the end, says The Hollywood Reporter.

The film revolves around a young mute Jewish boy who is sent by his parents to his aunt in Eastern Europe to avoid persecution during World War II.

However, when she dies unexpectedly, the boy, played by the non-professional newcomer Petr Kotlar, is suddenly left alone and falls victim to physical and sexual abuse as he finds his way through Nazi-occupied Europe.

Director Vaclav Marhoul (right) and actor Petr Kotlar pose as they arrive at the premiere of The Painted Bird & # 39; at the 76th edition of the Venice Film Festival, Venice, Italy, Tuesday, September 3, 2019, for photographers. (Photo by Arthur Mola / Invision / AP)

There are explicit abuse scenes and other graphic violence scenes. Film stars include Harvey Keitel, Udo Kier, Julian Sands and Stellan Skarsgard.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, TIFF programmer Dorata Lech introduced the film as "a leap into the darkest corners of the human soul".

"It is sometimes very difficult to observe on-screen atrocities, but it is very important to testify," she added.

The film released similar successes at the Venice Film Festival, where it premiered earlier this month (some viewers actually fought for the exits), but was also critically acclaimed.

After watching it in Venice, The Guardian's Xan Brooks received a full five stars and called it "a wild, scorching three-hour tour through hell".

"I could not look away," he added.

– This article first appeared on Yahoo