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Sanctioned Documentary Chronicles Obstacles And Love

Chronicling the immediate aftermath of some of the harshest sanctions in NCAA history, the documentary “Sanctioned” delves into the post-Paterno era at Penn State.

“Sanctioned” is about how the young men of Penn State’s football program weathered tragedy on the way to showing the world that they were, in fact, sanctioned by fate to show that “loyalty, faith, courage and brotherhood are sure ingredients of true success,” the filmmakers said.

The story was written by Eric Porterfield, who’s no stranger to Penn State films. He produced “365 Days: A Year in Happy Valley” and “The Joe We Know.” Porterfield, a Yale graduate, was helped by several Nittany Lions to make his idea a reality. Jack Tumen, a 2015 graduate from the College of Communications, joined Porterfield to help direct and produce the film.

“We exchanged info and the rest is history,” Tumen said of his relationship with Porterfield.

The documentary opens with Kevin Horne, Onward State’s managing editor at the time of the sanctions, saying, “If you wrote a movie script and sent this to a producer before this all happened, they’d send it back and say, ‘It’s too far fetched, it’s too crazy, no one will believe this.'”

The next 45 minutes of the documentary pull back the curtain to some great anecdotes from those seasons, like Joe Paterno’s parting words to his players — “Take care of each other, stand by each other, support each other. I love you guys.” The crew sat down with Sam Ficken, Mike Hull, Jesse Della Valle, and Ben Kline, all who opened up about what the program was like at the time.

Hull recalled how he sat in the locker room for hours, contemplating transferring to his hometown to play for Pitt. When he finally worked up the courage to tell Bill O’Brien the two had a long talk that quelled his initial uneasiness and reignited his love for the school he committed to.

The documentary is exactly what is claims to be, a story about obstacles and love. Where other renditions of the story were skewed at times, “Sanctioned” maintains an important balance between emotions and how things were.

“For those that are not Penn Staters, it’s a tale of how a tightly knit community becomes even tighter in the face of adversity — and ultimately how it overcomes that adversity altogether,” Tumen said.

For Penn Staters, the documentary offers a new look behind the scenes of the story we all know.

“‘Sanctioned’ is a modest film that Penn Staters will easily relate to,” Tumen said. “It sheds light on what went on behind closed doors for the football team and what it was like to bear the burden of the entire Penn State community through the University’s darkest time — a burden that shouldn’t have been theirs to bear in the first place.”

The documentary was released at the end of October following a successful kickstarter campaign. 69 backers pledged $5,425 to help bring the project to life.

“I hope that our audience can find ways to resonate with the personal and communal struggle that these players had to go through during such trying times,” Tumen said. “These players, particularly Joe Pa’s last class, emulate the true character of the Penn State community in every which way and this film brings that to light.”

You can order the DVD online for $19.95.

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