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Students Quiz Gordon Gund About Blindness During the Cleveland International Film Festival

photo of Gordon and Lulie Gund

The Cleveland International Film Festival completed its annual FilmSlam program today with a documentary about Gordon Gund. And as WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia reports, students from area schools even got to ask Gund questions about his life with retinitis pigmentosa.

The documentary “The Illumination” touches on Gund’s blindness, his ownership of the Cleveland Cavaliers and his philanthropy, but its main focus is his foundation’s efforts to cure blindness in a Belgian boy.

One of the showings was part of FilmSlam, in which high school students from around Northeast Ohio are invited to view movies and then participate in a Q&A with filmmakers. Cameron Olin is a junior at Medina High School and says what resonated for her was the relationship between Gund and his wife, Lulie.

“They were walking down the stairs and his wife put his hand on the rocks so he could feel what it felt like, because he couldn't see it. Their love is what really hit me.”

The Gunds said they were pleased that students asked not just about the Cavs, but mostly about how they dealt with the blindness, which hit Gordon in the late 1960s.

"We're all going to face adversity; in one form or another, everybody does. And it's how you deal with it and how you think about it that really matters. And if this has been helpful in that way, all the better."

Since the experimental treatment began in 2008, Gund says about 100 people have had their sight restored through his foundation. His entire “Film-Slam” question-and-answer session is available here.


Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.