Barbara works as a doctor and in the summer of 1980 she applies for an exit permit from East Germany to reunite with her boyfriend who is already in West Germany. Her application is denied, and she is moved to a small hospital far out in the countryside where the authorities keep track of everything she does. The idea is to flee to her boyfriend, but she is becoming increasingly engaged in her work and her patients at the new hospital. As the day of the escape approaches, she makes a decision that will affect her life forever. The film won the Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlin International Film Festival 2012. According to Annika Gustafsson at Sydsvenskan the director Christian Petzold "is primarily interested in what is happening inside Barbara, even if the external drama is crucial".