Venice in tune with Dylan feature

'I'm Not There' brings buzz, praise to artist

Bob Dylan dominated the Venice Film Festival on Tuesday as Todd Haynes’ biopic “I’m Not There” split critics but set off a praise wave for the singer-songwriter on the Lido.

“He is probably the one artist of our time who will still be considered 200 years from now. Not Picasso: Bob Dylan,” enthused co-star Richard Gere at the pic’s packed presser.

There were some walkouts during the Lido press screening of the first feature about his life that Dylan has blessed, but there were also cheers when the final credits rolled.

Complex pic, which world preemed in Telluride, features six thesps playing Dylan, including Gere, who portrays him as a Billy the Kid type living in a Fellini-esque Western town.

“The first time I met Todd, I said, ‘What the fuck is this character?'” Gere said.

But after he and Haynes talked, “I understood the approach he was taking to this film,” Gere said.

Haynes said he got Dylan’s approval precisely because of the film’s experimental structure.

“It’s something that would keep expanding who (Dylan) is, and what he’s about, and not reducing it, which I think is the tendency in the traditional biopic,” Haynes added.

Also playing Dylan are Cate Blanchett (who did not make the trek to the Lido), Heath Ledger (who did), Marcus Carl Franklin, Christian Bale and Ben Whishaw.

In the first test for this pic, which no doubt will be a marketing challenge, “I’m Not There” will bow theatrically in Italy on Friday via BIM Distribuzione before a slow rollout Stateside that begins Nov. 21 via the Weinstein Co.

Also unspooling in the Venice competish on Tuesday was well-received Italo anti-Mafia drama “The Bitter and the Sweet,” starring Luigi Lo Cascio (“The One Hundred Steps”) as a Sicilian mobster caught between La Cosa Nostra and the woman he loves. Hard-hitting mob pic is a sophomore feature by Andrea Porporati produced by Medusa.

Fest closes Saturday.

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