Amir Bar-Lev’s documentary Happy Valley takes an unflinching look at an iconic American institution in the wake of unthinkable scandal. Nestled in the idyllic area known as Happy Valley lies the town of State College and the home of Penn State University. For over 40 years, Joe Paterno was the celebrated head coach of the school’s storied football team. Lauded not only for his program’s success on the field, but also for students’ achievements in the classroom, Paterno was a revered figure in a town where team loyalty approached nationalistic fervor. Then in November 2011 everything changed when longtime assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with 40 counts of child sex abuse, setting off a firestorm of accusations about who failed to protect the children of Happy Valley. Filmed over the course of the year after Sandusky’s arrest as key players agreed to share their stories, Happy Valley deconstructs the story we think we know to uncover a much more complicated and tragic tale. Director Bar-Lev creates an indelible portrait of a wounded community and an engrossing investigation into the role big time college football played in both the crimes and their aftermath.
“A powerful new documentary. “Happy Valley” has a chilling timeliness.”
The New York Times
"Thorough, thoughtful and heartbreaking."
Los Angeles Times
“An exceptionally thoughtful, layered and surprising film.”
"Riveting...turns the tables on the national perception of the scandal.”
"A subtle and provocative documentary."
Critics’ Picks “Amir Bar-Lev, a skilled chronicler of tricky dynamics, has done an expert job of brewing the controversy to its full potency.”
Time Out NY
Sundance Film Festival - Official Selection
Winner! Sarasota Film Festival - Documentary Feature Award
Full Frame Documentary Film Festival - Official Selection
Hot Docs Documentary Film Festival - Official Selection
AFI Docs Documentary Film Festival - Official Selection
Penn State Campus Q&A with Director Amir Bar-Lev