Ken Loach may not be such a stranger in his own land after all. Having typically financed his films with little more than a TV deal out of the UK, the director's regular producer Rebecca O'Brien has secured an all-rights pre-sale on Ae Fond Kiss to Icon Film Distribution.

The deal re-unites Loach with the UK distributor of Sweet Sixteen, which Icon picked up when it competed at Cannes and opened on a hefty 66 sites for a total gross of $1.3m (£824,821).

With the odd exception, such as FilmFour's Bread And Roses, recent Loach films were typically funded by TV pre-sales with the BBC or Channel 4 and picked up later for theatrical outings.

"We've been pre-selling to the rest of Europe but it was always our ambition to do that in the UK," O'Brien said. "This says that the film has more commercial prospects."

Along with bringing on board Loach's regular partners from continental Europe, O'Brien is finalising a deal with one of the UK's tax-based equity funds on the production, which is set to start shooting next month.

Public funding body Scottish Screen is providing further UK investment for what will mark the third in Loach's Glasgow trilogy after Sweet Sixteen and My Name Is Joe.

Named after a Robert Burns verse, Ae Fond Kiss is also backed by France's Diaphana, Spain's Tornasol and Italy's BIM.

Uli Felsberg, who traditionally co-produced Loach films through Road Movies, is on board through his new production company. An international sales company is to be confirmed.