Israeli American filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev’s new documentary about the pedophile football coach from Penn State Jerry Sandusky, titled “Happy Valley” came out today.
This is the eighth film directed by the California native whose movies have all received critical acclaim. The film review site Rotten Tomatoes has given Happy Valley a rating of 92%.
No one in America can forget the drama which unfolded around the sexual abuse scandal involving the staff of Penn State’s football team. It brought down one of the most beloved football coaches of all time and a Pennsylvania hero Joe Paterno.
In November 2011, the team’s longtime Assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with 40 counts of child sex abuse. Specifically, it was said that he molested children in the team’s locker room showers. A junior coach had witnessed this but kept silent because the team asked him too.
But he eventually testified against Sandusky who was convicted and will be spending the rest of his life in jail.
In this movie, the Emmy winning Bar Lev gives the audience a picture of how the scandal affected State College Pennsylvania, a city whose entire existence is based around Pennsylvania’s state university. Who in the school and city knew about Sandusky and for how long?
It is more about the city and the people than it is about the scandal.
As Bar Lev explained to Sports Illustrated about his movie, “What we tried to do is try to get away from the finger-pointing and try to understand this as a cultural story. I think there’s much to learn from the failings of people around Jerry Sandusky and writing it off as a conspiracy to save the football brand is too easy. More is at work here.”
On Joe Paterno he said, “I think some Penn Staters sanctified Joe Paterno in a way that even he was uncomfortable with. But I wouldn’t say the moral of this story is that Penn State had a ‘Joe Paterno problem.’ I think that human beings have a deification problem and America has a spectacle problem. There are much bigger issues at work, and that’s why this story took on the life that it has. The finger-pointing ignores the size of this problem. For America to point its fingers at Happy Valley and say, ‘that town had a problem with football, ’ that sounds pretty hypocritical to me.”