Happy Valley

Happy Valley

“A powerful new documentary. Happy Valley has a chilling timeliness.”
—A.O. Scott, New York Times

“Thorough, thoughtful and heartbreaking . . . rather than focusing primarily on Jerry Sandusky's crimes, the film broadens in scope and complexity to examine the assumptions of an entire community, as well as the football first culture that allowed evil to flourish in its midst”
—Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

"Nothing in this film (and little in any other movie this year) compares to the scenes of Sandusky's adopted son, Matt, recounting his realization that the charges of pedophilia against Sandusky squared with the ways Sandusky had treated him, too — treatment he'd never been brave enough to admit."
—Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice

“Mesmerizing . . . Happy Valley is a devastating portrait of a community.”
—David Denby, The New Yorker

“An exceptionally thoughtful, layered and surprising film.”
—Justin Chang, Variety


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.


Director: Amir Bar-Lev
Producers: John Battsek, Ken Dornstein, Jonathan Koch, Steve Michaels
Editors: Dan Swietlik, Brian Funck, David Zieff