Euro veteran Cedomir Kolar is making the trip to Toronto for the third time — on this occasion with Danis Tanovic’s “L’Enfer” — and once again he’s bracing himself for a unique experience.

“The festival is American without being American and French without being French. It’s non-competitive and still competitive. And it’s a market without being a real market — I guess it’s typically Canadian!”

Kolar particularly appreciates the warmth with which local audiences welcome the festival. “Wherever you go in the city, you see that people live for the festival. You can’t say that of people in Cannes. They are just living for the money they can get out of us. And Venice doesn’t even know that the festival exists.”

Yet, nothing prepared Kolar for the unusual welcome that his previous Toronto entry “No Man’s Land” received during the pic’s gala screening. The film had already been sold in the U.S. to United Artists, which was just as astonished as Kolar when first-time director Danis Tanovic introduced the Bosnian lead actor Branko Djuric and suddenly the audience broke out in a standing ovation.

“It was like an explosion in the auditorium and my friends from United Artists and MGM looked at me like ‘What’s going on?!’ “

What Kolar and the rest of the pic’s delegation didn’t know was that Toronto boasts one of the biggest immigrant communities from the former Yugoslavia in the world and Djuric had been a huge television star in the Balkans before the war.

“All these people from the former Yugoslavia had bought tickets in advance to give us this incredible surprise. That just proves it: in Toronto people really live for the festival!”

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