Happy Valley

Happy Valley

Streaming Video - 2015
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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.
Publisher: [United States] : Music Box Films : Made available through hoopla, 2015
Branch Call Number: STREAMING VIDEO
Characteristics: 1 online resource (1 video file (approximately 98 min.)) : sd., col


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I read somewhere that Hitler got his idea for the huge Nuremberg Rallies after seeing film of the Michigan-Illinois football game and the massive crowd in attendance there. This is what came to mind during the opening shots of HAPPY VALLEY. Fascism, baby. It's hard to come away from this documentary, though its focus is less than laser-like, without a keener appreciation of the authoritarian essence of our culture.

May 11, 2017

Excellent. The director wisely allows competing viewpoints to fully flesh out how this tragedy could have occurred and the power of a community to turn a blind eye--or the harder choice--the power of a community to turn inward and reflect on a different path going forward. Also interesting to see attention turned to male survivors of sexual abuse. Because the majority are female, male stories are sometimes overlooked. Especially sad to hear the testimony of Sandusky's adopted son, whom he carefully chose and groomed for his sick tastes.

Feb 18, 2017

I found this difficult to watch, I even shut it off twice when the subject matter came too close to experiences that have haunted my own life. The perpetrators are dead now, but much like the brutal subject of this film, the pain never dies.

Sandusky was the evil force behind this, and I think Paterno was complicit in the eye of the law. They make the entire area and everyone involve a victim, and in some way they were, but they glossed over the men (who were just boys then) to focus on how this hurt the culture of Penn State, and the sports that were so important to a wider community of supporters.

Paint me a victim too, I watched the film.

Mar 07, 2016

This is a 2014 American documentary written and directed by Amir Bar-Lev.
The film focuses on the former long-time defensive coordinator of Penn State's football team, Jerry Sandusky, who was charged with 40 counts of child sex abuse.
His case sets off a firestorm of accusations about who failed to protect the children.
The University administrators and Coach Joe Paterno seem to have covered it up, and the president and Paterno were fired.
The director appears more concerned with the phenomenon of team spirit than any single question of fact or moral judgment.
The board of the trustees simply fired the supposedly bad guys, but the problem still remains.
Who will protect the children?

Nov 22, 2015

the director does not assign blame to Paterno - he presents views from both sides but I found the fans' more adamant than the ones prepared to consider guilt. the mural painter represents the flux of opinion in the community.

Oct 26, 2015

An outstanding and compelling documentary. It puzzles me how football can be so deeply ingrained in a culture that tens of thousands of people will come to a high school game, let alone far more for a college game. This features interviews from all sides of the story of the Sandusky case and the coverup by Penn State. The adoration of the deceased head coach Joe Paterno is appalling, as are the excuses made by the people who wish the whole matter would go away. My sympathy is for the victims, not the fans making excuses. The documentary will leave you informed and deeply troubled at how cult-like the culture can be.

Jun 07, 2015

This documentary does a thorough job of reviewing the actual events at UPenn, but even more importantly, it provides a deep look into how sports (and failures in sports) affect communities. The second half of the film, which focuses more on the repercussions of the crisis is fascinating. There are lots of great interviews here too, from all sides of the story.


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