Foreign animation distributor GKIDS announced this morning that they have acquired North American distribution rights to Cartoon Saloon’s highly anticipated hand-drawn pic Song of the Sea. The Irish film is directed by Tomm Moore, whose debut feature The Secret of Kells was nominated for an Oscar in 2010 and also released in the U.S. by GKIDS.

Song of the Sea tells the story of Ben and his little sister Saoirse – the last Seal-child – who embark on a fantastic journey across a fading world of ancient legend and magic in an attempt to return to their home by the sea. The film takes inspiration from the mythological Selkies of Irish folklore, who live as seals in the sea but become humans on land. The film features the voices of Brendan Gleeson, Fionnula Flanagan, David Rawle, Lisa Hannigan, Pat Shortt and Jon Kenny. Music is by composer Bruno Coulais and Irish band Kíla, both of whom previously collaborated on The Secret of Kells.

Cartoon Saloon is co-producing Song of the Sea with Melusine Productions (Luxembourg), The Big Farm (Belgium), Norlum (Denmark) and Superprod (France).