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Iraq submits 'El Clasico' film as official foreign-language Oscar selection

Iraq's official foreign-language Oscar submission this year is a film called "El Clasico" about two young Kurds who embark on a road trip to try to meet Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo.

The plot features two brothers, one a Madrid fan and the other a Barcelona supporter, who live in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Madrid follower hatches a plan to visit the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu and meet Ronaldo, in the hope of impressing his would-be bride's father, by presenting the Portugal captain with a pair of traditional homemade shoes.

The film has been confirmed as an official Oscar selection ahead of next weekend's La Liga Clasico between Madrid and Barca at the Camp Nou, and according to the Hollywood Reporter it "offers unusual views of a war-torn region, through the lens of a romantic story tinged with allegory."

While the trailer shows the brothers making it as far as the outside of the Bernabeu, it does not disclose whether they actually get to meet Ronaldo and hand over the shoes in person.

However, the film's Kurdish-Norwegian director Halkawt Mustafa told Vice Sports that their work in contacting Ronaldo's agent, Jorge Mendes, had paid off.

"I spent a year asking his agent and in the end we did get to meet him. I was really happy to make Wyra's [the lead actor] dream come true," Mustafa said. "Before you meet Ronaldo, you think he is something different, but when you meet him you realise how nice he is."

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan

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