November 11, 2019

Violent Scenes Cause Some Viewers to Walk out of Holocaust Film at Venice Festival

Udo Kier, Aleksey Kravchenko, Stellan Skarsgård, guest, Barry Pepper, Petr Kotlár, director Václav Marhoul and Julian Sands attend "The Painted Bird" photocall during the 76th Venice Film Festival on September 03, 2019 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Matteo Chinellato/NurPhoto via Getty Images via JTA)

(JTA) —  The graphic depictions of violence in a Holocaust film proved to be more than some could handle at the Venice Film Festival.

Several viewers walked out of a screening of “The Painted Bird,” which describes devastation in Eastern Europe as seen by a boy who may be Jewish or Roma. The movie is based on a 1965 book by Jerzy Kosinski.

The black-and-white film, which has received positive reviews, has the boy witnessing incest, bestiality, rape, mutilation and murder. Directed by the Czech director Vaclav Marhoul, “The Painted Bird” stars Harvey Keitel and Stellan Skarsgard.

Xan Brooks, a critic for the Guardian, wrote that some shocked viewers among the 14 he saw leaving felt their way frantically in the dark to get away from the dark theater.

In one scene, a boy’s pet ferret is burned alive. In another, a boy is buried alive as famished ravens peck away at his bald scalp.