Pat Tillman never thought of himself as a hero. His choice to leave a multimillion-dollar football contract and join the military wasn't done for any reason other than he felt it was the ... See full summary »
Deep in the heart of Utah, commonly referred to as "Happy Valley," residents enjoy one of the lowest crime rates, highest literacy and language fluency - even the most jello consumption - ... See full summary »
The film centers on Joe Paterno, who after becoming the most successful coach in college football history, is embroiled in Penn State's Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal, challenging his ... See full summary »
A heart-racing documentary portrait of Carl Boenish, the father of the BASE jumping movement, whose early passion for skydiving led him to ever more spectacular -and dangerous- feats of foot-launched human flight.
The town of State College, the home of Penn State University, has long been known as Happy Valley, and its iconic figure for more than 40 years was Joe Paterno, the head coach of the school's storied football team. His program was lauded for not only its success on the field but also its students' achievements in the classroom. And Paterno took on mythic national stature as "Saint Joe." But then, in November 2011, everything came crashing down. 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. Was Sandusky's abuse an "open secret" in the town? Did Coach Paterno and the Penn State administration value their football program more than the lives of Sandusky's victims? Filmed over the course of the year after Sandusky's arrest as key players in the scandal agreed to share their stories, Happy Valley deconstructs the story we think we know to uncover a much ...Written by
Sundance Film Festival
"St. Joe": What Penn State, College Station, and the world called Joe Paterno before the Jerry Sandusky indictment.
No one ever called my town, Columbus, "Happy Valley," but when Ohio State defeats Michigan, it's a happy valley indeed. That euphoria over a football program as successful as Penn State under head coach Joe Paterno with its spell cast so widely is the engine that drives a community to miss the signs of crime such as assistant coach Jerry Sandusky's abuse of young boys.
Amir Bar-Lev's documentary, Happy Valley, covers the historical bases of Sandusky's conviction on multiple counts and Paterno's eventual firing (and death a few months later) for not doing more to bring justice for the abused boys. Even Sandusky's adopted son, Matt, who is the most talking head in the doc, waits until boys have testified against Sandusky to confess he lied—he was abused.
That confession is at the heart of this slowly competent documentary, for it encapsulates the ambivalence of a community so mesmerized by football and its cast of characters that it takes a while to acknowledge some of the actors have feet of clay. Sandusky is easy—he was seen in the showers with boys—but Paterno, the beatified coach (the statue on campus is now gone, as if he were Hussein or Stalin), challenges their understanding of a morality that extends beyond just legally telling a superior about an incident, as Paterno did.
Bar-Lev's is as even-handed as could be: the media is held up to harsh light with its aggressive, predatory pursuit of the sensational; the NCAA is never fair enough; and the University, from president on down, can't get it just right.
And so it goes—this well done doc, despite the sometimes vacant talking heads, shows few participants not caught up in the hoopla. It sure makes me think Ohio State's Jim Tressel dust up was just a skirmish in an enduring battle for the hearts and souls of students and the communities where they live.
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