BERLIN — Germany has become one of the first countries to announce its pic for the foreign language Oscar race, kick-starting the awards season.

An independent, nine-person jury appointed by national promo org German Films chose Christian Petzold’s East German drama “Barbara” on Thursday in Berlin.

The film, which won Petzold the Silver Bear for director at the Berlin Film Festival, follows a doctor who finds love in a provincial hospital after being harshly reprimanded for wanting to leave the GDR.

“We are very pleased about the jury’s selection of our film,” Petzold and producers Florian Koerner von Gustorf and Michael Weber said in a statement. “After the Berlinale and successful releases in Germany and France, this honor comes at a perfect moment for the upcoming releases of ‘Barbara’ in the U.S., Great Britain, Spain and Italy.”

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The Match Factory has sold “Barbara” to more than 40 territories. Adopt Films will release it in the U.S. on Dec. 21.

Distributed by Piffl Medien, “Barbara” nabbed $2.96 million at the German box office.

It was produced by Berlin-based Schramm Film Koerner & Weber, in co-production with pubcaster ZDF, and backed by regional and federal funders Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, BKM, the German Federal Film Board and the German Federal Film Fund.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce the five nominees for best foreign film on Jan. 15. The 85th Academy Awards ceremony takes place Feb. 24.