Streaming now: Watch the full feature of PBS Great Performances: Remember This and go behind the scenes with the creative team of Great Performances: Remember This for a look at how they tailored the original stage production to shine on screen in Remembering Jan Karski.
The Laboratory for Global Performance & Politics
In a powerful solo performance, Academy Award nominee David Strathairn (“Nomadland,” “Good Night, and Good Luck,” “Lincoln”) tells the true story of reluctant World War II hero and Holocaust witness Jan Karski with Strathairn also portraying over 30 other characters in Great Performances: Remember This premiered on Monday, March 13 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS , pbs.org/gperf and the PBS App with an upcoming encore broadcast Sunday, April 16 at 6 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings). The premiere was part of Great Performances’ 50th anniversary season and is accompanied by Remembering Jan Karski, a behind-the-scenes companion film produced by The WNET Group’s Exploring Hate initiative that examines the ongoing relevance of Jan Karski’s story.
After surviving the devastation of the Blitzkrieg, Karski swears allegiance to the Polish Underground and risks his life to carry the first eyewitness reports of the Holocaust to the Western world, and ultimately, the Oval Office. Escaping a Gestapo prison, bearing witness to the despair of the Warsaw ghetto and confronted by the barbaric inhumanity of a death camp, Karski endures mental anguish and physical torture to stand tall and speak the truth. At times addressing the audience directly, Strathairn powerfully communicates this story of moral courage and individual responsibility that has become even more urgent for today’s world.
Presented in stark black and white, the intimate film utilizes a minimal set that transforms into many locations through the use of dramatic lighting effects. Produced by Eva Anisko and directed by Jeff Hutchens and Derek Goldman, the film is based on the play “Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski” by Clark Young and Derek Goldman that was originally produced by The Laboratory for Global Performance & Politics at Georgetown University. The film was shot on in July 2020 at a Brooklyn soundstage at the height of the pandemic and was completed in 2022. Earlier this year, the film was released by Abramorama in collaboration with Great Performances, in a limited theatrical run to critical acclaim.
Immediately following the broadcast, The WNET Group’s reporting initiative, Exploring Hate, looks behind the scenes of Remember This with a companion film, Remembering Jan Karski. The piece features interviews with actor David Strathairn and the film’s creative team, along with those who knew Karski personally including Holocaust scholar Michael Berenbaum, Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat, Ijeoma Njaka and former President of Georgetown University, Father Leo O’Donovan. Remembering Jan Karski provides insight into the real-life hero’s character and legacy and while reflecting on what what his story can teach us about the issues we face today.