From Page to Screen: Screening of THE CHOSEN


In Partnership with National Museum of American Jewish History
Gershman Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival Presents

From Page to Screen: Featuring THE CHOSEN

A Celebration of the 90th Anniversary of Chaim Potok’s Birth and the
Publication of The Collected Plays of Chaim Potok

Sunday, February 17, 2019
6 PM @ National Museum of American Jewish History

Buy Tickets Here

General Admission: $15
General Admission + The Collected Plays of Chaim Potok Hardcover Book: $30

  • Opening Remarks by Rena Potok, editor of The Collected Plays of Chaim Potok: “Chaim Potok’s THE CHOSEN from Page to Screen to Stage”
  • Screening followed by Q&A with Rena Potok and the award-winning director of THE CHOSEN, Jeremy Kagan (via Skype)

Director: Jeremy Kagan
Genre: Narrative Feature
Country: USA
Year: 1981
Running Time: 1 hr 48 min
Language: In English, Hebrew and German with English subtitles

Some of the best films and TV series ever produced got their start as novels, plays, and short stories. In the Gershman Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival’s new biannual series, From Page to Screen, audiences will explore a seminal work from an iconic Jewish writer and a major work from a contemporary Jewish writer, learning how these stories evolve and transform from page to screen. In this inaugural program of From Page to Screen, Rena Potok (daughter of Chaim Potok) will discuss THE CHOSEN in its many iterations — novel, film, and play — and introduce her edited work, The Collected Plays of Chaim Potok. Following the screening, Rena Potok and Jeremy Kagan, the award-winning director of THE CHOSEN, will discuss the film as emblematic of the author’s ideas about culture confrontation, the relevance of these ideas today, and the director’s vision for adapting THE CHOSEN into a feature length film. A book signing of The Collected Plays of Chaim Potok and a wine & cheese reception will follow the discussion.

THE CHOSEN is a 1981 drama based on Chaim Potok’s best-selling novel of the same name. Set in Brooklyn in 1944-1948, the film tells the story of two Jewish teenagers who become unlikely friends. Danny Saunders is an Orthodox yeshiva boy who quietly rebels against his Rebbe father and insular Hasidic community, while Reuven Malter is a modern Jewish teen who enjoys playing baseball and studying Talmud with his father, a liberal college professor and dedicated Zionist. After some initial friction between the boys, Danny and Reuven realize that they have more in common than they thought. Despite parental expectations, issues of tradition, and the formation of Israel causing tension in their friendship, the boys develop a deep bond and continue to explore one another’s worlds.

THE CHOSEN received the Grand Prize at the Montreal International Film Festival and the Belgium Film Festival. It was also named as one of the top ten films of the year by the National Board of Review.

Chaim Potok, the author of the novel on which Kagan’s 1981 film is based, was a best-selling writer of novels, histories, biographies, young adult fiction, children’s books, and plays. The Chosen, widely translated and selling over 3.4 million copies worldwide, was featured on The New York Times‘ best-seller list for 39 weeks. Illuminating the world of Hasidic Judaism and touching millions of readers worldwide, the internationally beloved author passed away on July 23, 2002 in Merion, PA. He was 73 years old.

The Collected Plays of Chaim Potok is the authoritative, first-ever collection of Chaim Potok’s plays. Rena Potok, a professor of literature and writing, wrote the introduction which presents the history of the plays, a literary analysis of their central themes and motifs, and a discussion of her father’s theory of culture confrontation. The five plays featured in this volume were originally produced and performed in Philadelphia. Three of the plays — The Carnival, The Gallery, and The Play of Lights — are dramatizations of scenes from the novels The Promise, My Name is Asher Lev, and The Book of Lights (respectively). Out of the Depths is an original work depicting the life of Russian Jewish writer, ethnographer, and activist S. Ansky. THE CHOSEN is a full-length adaption of its fictional namesake. Each of the plays features characters struggling with the collision of the culture in which they were raised and the culture of the world they have come to inhabit. At the same time, the characters strive to navigate the devotion and conflict of father-son relationships, the complexities of friendship, and the development of a sense of self.


Official Selection:

  • Berlin International Film Festival
  • San Francisco Jewish Film Festival


  • Top Ten Films – National Board of Review (1982)


  • “Singularly brilliant, an impressive achievement that puts it in the select company of the best films of the year.” (Bruce McCabe, Boston Globe)
  • “A gently evocative movie, with its glimpses of a strict and self-contained culture, and its memories of a time gone by.” (Janet Maslin, The New York Times)