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Germany's Official Academy Award Entry for Best Foreign Language Film

Christian Petzold has established himself as the most internationally recognized representative of the so-called ‘Berlin School’, the unofficial new wave of filmmakers who have reinvigorated German cinema with films marked by a precise, observational style that manages to be both enigmatic and lucid.

Poster art for BarbaraRemoved from a prestigious medical post in East Berlin circa 1980 and reassigned to an underfunded rural hospital – her tacit punishment for requesting an exit visa from the GDR – Barbara (Nina Hoss) resentfully isolates herself from her new colleague, chief physician Andre (Ronald Zehrfeld), whom she suspects is keeping tabs on her at the behest of the local Stasi officer Schütz (Rainer Bock). Seeking solace in trysts with her West German lover Jörg (Mark Waschke), who is working to effect Barbara’s escape across the border, Barbara allows her icy mask to slip when she meets a young pregnant woman, Stella (Jasna Fritzi Bauer), who has contracted meningitis. As Barbara and Andre nurse Stella back to health, they begin to bond over their shared passion for medicine. But even as she finds herself falling in love with him, Barbara still cannot be sure that Andre is not a spy. When Jörg returns to offer her a sure-fire escape from the country, Barbara must make a difficult decision between her desire for freedom and her growing attraction to a man who may be waiting to betray her.

Petzold uses his meticulously calibrated pacing and crisp visual style to create a foreboding atmosphere of ever growing paranoia and claustrophobia. Working for the fifth time with his Yella and Jerichow star Hoss – whose measured, icy restraint is the perfect actorly analogue for Petzold’s expertly muted style – he creates a brilliantly incisive study of what becomes of human nature when totalitarian states weave suspicion into the fabric of everyday life.

– Dimitri Eipides, Toronto International Film Festival


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