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‘365 Days: A Year in Happy Valley’ Documentary To Premiere Tonight

There are at least three documentaries focused on the Sandusky fallout in the final production stages, but none are more hyped than “365 Days: A Year in Happy Valley.” Directed by Erik Proulx and produced/written by Eric Porterfield, the full-length documentary will premiere tonight at the State Theatre in a special invitation-only red carpet event.

If you haven’t seen the absolutely chilling three minute trailer, you should:

With all the gloomy press Penn State has received over the immediate two years, it’s easy to understand why the community wouldn’t be exactly bullish about opening up old wounds and reigniting some of the emotions that came with the worst moments in our university’s history. But make no mistake about it — judging by all the initial murmurs and the trailer above, this documentary promises to not be so cheerless.

Indeed, the film’s central premise counteracts that all too all-too-familiar narrative — “After everyone else left, we stayed.” After hundreds of national journalists descended on our Happy Valley for only a week and shaped — in large part, irreparably — the national story against our collective identity, this film crew stayed for another 51 weeks to chronicle what amounted to the most volatile and confusing year in Penn State history. We weren’t really sure what was real and what wasn’t, but we still believed in our values and set out to rebuild what may or may not have needed to be rebuilt.

Debby Greenman-Rippey, the film’s publicity director, described the mission of the film is to explore “issues of conformity as part of human nature, the quest for justice, the role of the media in shaping public perception, and the collateral damage of a rush to judgment.”

The event description lays it out in even greater detail:

The 365 Days film team wasn’t trying to prove anything; but we observed everything. We had no interest in creating controversy; but we documented it. We’re not suggesting that anyone seeks justice, nor are we saying that anyone should move on. Our film explores how individuals came together to grapple with unresolved issues in the wake of the Sandusky crimes. It looks at the crimes’ reverberations in this small, high profile community, while highlighting and showcasing the strength and resolve of those who live in and cherish what is known as “Happy Valley.” What happened – and what still might happen – is “365 Days: A Year in Happy Valley.”

A large part of the film crew, including Porterfield, also worked on “The Joe We Know” documentary a couple years ago, which explored the impact of Joe Paterno’s “Grand Experiment” as told by more than 70 of his former players. The evidence all points to another positive film in “365 Days” for all who have come to know and cherish what is still our Happy Valley.

On top of the red carpet premiere tomorrow night, there are 16 scheduled public showings scheduled over the night several weeks in State College, across Pennsylvania, and as far as Baltimore and Florida. Plans are also in the works to schedule more State College shows when students return from winter break.

We’ll be at the show tonight and will have a review for you this weekend. Here’s a few words from the director in the meantime:

About the Author

Kevin Horne

Kevin Horne was the editor of Onward State from 2012-2014 and currently holds the position of Managing Editor Emeritus, which is a fake title he made up. He graduated from Penn State with degrees journalism and political science in 2014 and is currently seeking his J.D. at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. A third generation Penn Stater from Williamsport, Pa., Kevin is also the president of the graduate student government. Email: [email protected]

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