Hot Docs 2014: Happy Valley Review

Happy Valley

Happy Valley

Special Presentations

Amir Bar-Lev (The Tillman Story, My Kid Could Pain That!) takes a look at two very murky conflicts at play in the Jerry Sandusky/Penn State Football sex abuse scandal: being a supporter vs. being a part of a cult of personality and moral guilt vs. legal guilt. It’s a complex and frightening portrait of a town that stands to lose everything if they lose their foothold in professional college football.

Sandusky, former assistant coach to the Nittany Lions never abused college aged players, but he did use team facilities to rape and sexually abuse younger children that were in his care via a day camp program he ran. Does that make this a team issue or a Jerry Sandusky issue? Also, heavily lauded and now sadly departed coach Joe Paterno did report the misgivings when he heard of them to his superiors. Was that enough to fire him after a sixty-plus year career and ban the team from bowl games for several years or did he do what was right?

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Lev never gives any easy answers, and although the town of State College, Pennsylvania has certainly rallied around their team (to distressing, violent degrees at times) there’s a palpable sadness and confusion over how to proceed after having their trust willfully violated by “one of their own.” It’s also especially poignant when the film stops to talk to Paterno’s sons and Sandusky’s adopted son (who would eventually come forward to testify against his former father figure).

It goes on about 15 minutes after it should have logically wrapped up, but Lev never takes sides in an issue that has infected an entire community and nation. (Andrew Parker)

Remaining Screenings

Thursday, May 1st, Hart House Theatre, 7:00pm

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