Introducing his award-winning animated documentary, Waltz with Bashir, to an expectant Festival audience on opening night, director Ari Folman (who, it has to be said, bears a curiously convincing resemblance to the swaggering gent from the Dos Equis commercials) received a boisterous ovation when he declared unabashedly that not only is TIFF the best film festival in the world, but that Toronto has the best audiences in the world.

Of course, the fact that he preceded this preamble by explaining how he witnessed another director say precisely the same thing at the Telluride Film Festival, and how he “learned his lesson there”, did nothing to detract from the audience’s enthusiastic response.

It was a fitting introduction, since Waltz with Bashir is very much about lessons learned. Lessons of humanity, of peering into the darkness hidden within in order to come to terms with it; to face the darkness fully so that one may see the light. Drawn from his own experiences in war, and inspired by the guilt that resurfaced due to his complicity in the massacre of thousands of innocent civilians, the film is a powerful indictment of the ability to deny and repress that makes war possible; and of the capacity for redemption that makes peace a necessity.

It was appropriate that Folman commanded such thunderous applause before his film began, since the audience (every one of whom stayed for the Q&A) was left muted by the film's stunning emotional and spiritual wallop. Festival programmer Jane Schoettle hit it spot on in her introduction when she described the film as one that delves into the human soul. The transition from the film's graphic novel portrayal to the stark documentary footage revealed at the end is one of the most powerful moments you'll experience in a theatre this year.