The critically acclaimed and award-winning film Remember This had its American television premiere on PBS on March 13, 2023, and is now available for streaming (see link at the end).
The broadcast was followed by a behind-the-scenes companion film, Remember Jan Karski, featuring interviews with the creative team as well as Karski’s friends and colleagues, who reflected on Karski’s legacy.
Dr. Michael Berenbaum of the American Jewish University, who knew Karski personally, said of him, “I always felt I was in the presence of nobility, of greatness.” Father Leo O’Donovan, former President of Georgetown University and Karski’s close friend, observed that “Young Karski came from a different place. It was a place of dignity, integrity, a place of true patriotism.” “Karski never wavered,” added Jacek Nowakowski of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The Polish Underground courier is portrayed in the film by the Academy Award nominee David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck, Lincoln, Nomadland, Where the Crawdads Sing), who felt privileged to carry the weight of Karski’s story. “Rarely do we get an opportunity as performers to share this kind of material,” he stressed.
Clark Young, who co-authored the screenplay, was attracted to Karski because his was a story of failure, “which he finds to be… more generative than stories of success. They teach us what we’ve done wrong in relation to what we have in the world right now.”
Eva Anisko, the producer and executive producer, and Jeff Hutchens, co-director and cinematographer, talked about the technical aspects of filmmaking, such as the use of a single camera. “The camera follows David [Strathairn] so close that you are just in Karski’s world,” Eva Anisko observed. Jeff Hutchens explained various creative choices he made during the filming.
The guests also commented on what Karski’s story can teach us about the issues we face today. Stuart Eizenstat, former United States Ambassador to the European Union, said that we could not all be Karskis, but we need to speak out when witnessing injustice.
Derek Goldman, the co-writer and co-director, as well as the Artistic and Executive Director and Co-founder of Georgetown University’s Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics (The Lab), stressed the contemporary relevance of Karski's story. Together with Ijeoma Njaka, Inclusive Pedagogy Specialist at the Lab, they talked about the Georgetown University course “Bearing Witness,” inspired by the movie and the play about Karski, which evolved into the screenplay. He also admitted he did not expect a work of art to radically change the pressing issues the film was trying to present. Still, he does hope people will take a lesson from it by “wanting to live with some of the values and principles that Karski insisted on and espoused.”
Excerpts from the movie, archival footage, and pictures of Jan Karski, including the stunning photographs by Karski’s former student and professional photographer, Carole Harrison, provided the backdrop to the commentary.
PBS is making the film and the special about the Karski legacy available for streaming. Follow this LINK to access the platform.
For more information about the film, including the trailer and full credits, click HERE.
The broadcast was aired as a part of PBS’s 50th anniversary season. The special was produced by the WNET Group’s Exploring Hate initiative that examines the ongoing relevance of Jan Karski’s story.