Happy Valley
Doc Premieres


2013, 100 minutes, color, U.S.A.

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 more complicated and tragic tale. Director Amir Bar-Lev creates a parable of guilt, redemption, and identity crisis for a small town caught in the glare of the national spotlight.

Director: Amir Bar-Lev

Executive Producers: Molly Thompson, Bob DeBitetto, David McKillop

Producers: John Battsek, Jonathan Koch, Ken Dornstein, Steve Michaels

Co-producer: Ezekiel Morgan

Cinematographers: Sean Kirby, Nelson Hume

Editor: Dan Swietlik

Additional Editors: David Zieff, Brian Funck

About the Director

Amir Bar-Lev’s directorial credits include Fighter (2001); My Kid Could Paint That, which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival; and The Tillman Story, which earned him an Emmy Award and screened at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. He also directed the music documentaries Re: Generation (2011) and 12.12.12 (2013). Bar-Lev coproduced the documentary Trouble the Water, which won the documentary Grand Jury Prize at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award in 2009.


1/19/2014 2:15 pm
The MARC, Park City
1/21/2014 1:00 pm
Redstone Cinema 2, Park City
1/25/2014 6:15 pm
Temple Theatre, Park City
1/26/2014 6:30 pm
Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, SLC