Italian arthouse distributor Mikado has acquired local distribution rights to Takeshi Kitano's Zatoichi, bringing to four the total number of competition films at the upcoming Venice International Film Festival (Aug 27- Sep 6) which the outfit will release in Italy.

Kitano directs and stars in Zatoichi, playing the title role of a blind masseur and master swordsman. The film is sold by Paris-based Celluloid Dreams.

Kitano's new film is in the Venice 60 competition line-up. He won Venice's Golden Lion prize in 1997 for Hana-Bi.

Mikado is also the Italian distributor and co-producer behind veteran auteur Manoel De Oliveira's competition film, A Talking Picture (Un Filme Falado). It also holds Italian rights to Upstream competition films The First Letter (Abjad) by Abolfazl Jalili and Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation.

The veteran arthouse distributor also has Italian rights to Francis Nielsen's out-of-competition animation film Le Chien, Le General et Les Oiseaux.

Finally, Mikado owns local distribution rights to collective Jazz movie The Blues, of which four segments will screen in Venice as a late out-of-competition addition. The films are Feel Like Going Home, directed by Martin Scorsese; The Road To Memphis by Richard Pearce; Godfathers And Sons by Marc Levin and Red, White And Blues by Mike Figgis.

Meanwhile, Twentieth Century Fox has withdrawn The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen from the Venice line-up. The film, which stars Sean Connery, was due to screen out-of-competition.