'Lure the audience in' - How Taika Waititi 'tricked' audiences at Jojo Rabbit premiere

Taika Waititi's anti-hate satire Jojo Rabbit has split the Toronto Film Festival fair and square down the middle. It's been touted as Oscars bait by some and dismissed as "misguided" by others. 

But one thing is for sure - Jojo Rabbit has been the talk of the town today.

This may well be a WWII story about Hitler and Nazi Germany, but it's unmistakably Taika Waititi. And not just because he cast himself as Adolf. 

The Thor: Ragnarok director stays true to his Taika-ness in this role, using the one thing he knows best to bring humanity to his storytelling. 

"Comedy. Comedy is the trick - and sometimes it feels like a trick," he revealed to Newshub. 

"Lure the audience in [and] bring down their guard." 

It's a script he adapted himself from the book Caging Skies, and a film he directs as well as stars in.

The story is an emotional roller coaster, and according to Waititi, a "love letter" to all solo mums - but especially his own. 

Waititi's Hitler is the imaginary friend of ten-year-old JoJo, blindly fanatical about the Fuhrer.

It took 1000 different audition tapes to find young Brit Roman Griffin Davis, but the search was worth it.

Waititi admits to Newshub he's "pretty good" at casting kids. 

"He's alright I guess," the director joked. 

The film received a long-standing ovation at the world premiere. In direct contrast, it has so far polarised the festival critics, with some calling Jojo their best of the fest and baying for Oscars and others far less enthused.

But British actor Stephen Merchant, who plays a member of the Geshtapo in the film, believes Jojo has enormous power to provoke conversation.

Waititi has had a busy 24 hours. He was just honoured with the Director's award at TIFF, a ceremony which also celebrated the careers or actors Meryl Streep and Joaquin Phoenix.

Now, he and his cast head for Hollywood and Europe to promote the film - and the conversation - ahead of it's opening in New Zealand next month.

Jojo Rabbit is due to release in New Zealand on October 24.