‘Running Blind’ Looks at a Man’s Race to Find a Cure for a Genetic Disease
TELLURIDE – EJ Scott is a collector, accumulating thousands of vintage comic books in his L.A. home.
Among his stacks of comic books are many in the Daredevil series, an early 1960s-era comic starring a blind superhero touted as “The Man Without Fear.”
Scott, himself, has been called fearless, after this self-claimed non-athlete vowed to run 12 marathons in 12 months in 12 different states – a feat made especially exigent by the fact that Scott is legally blind.
Although his collection of marathon race bibs is remarkable given his disability, Scott doesn’t consider himself a superhero. “I don’t have any superpowers. I’m just a regular guy,” he says. Just a regular guy, with a rare, degenerative genetic disease of the retina called choroideremia; a disease that both he and his brother carry, which caused his grandfather to go completely blind, and could eventually cause his two young nephews to also lose their sight.
Scott’s story is the centerpiece of the new short film Running Blind, which will make its world premier at the Mountainfilm Festival this weekend.
The film follows Scott as he chases the outwardly lofty goal of raising $144,000 for choroideremia research by running a dozen marathons in a dozen states in 2012, all while blindfolded. While Scott still maintains a minimal ability to see, exposure to sunlight will cause him to lose his sight more rapidly. The film captures Scott’s triumphs, as well as his heartaches, as he attempts to raise money to find a cure for this disease while running blind for more than 300 miles over the course of a year.
Director Ryan Suffern says he was compelled to document Scott’s plight because it exemplified an inspiring spirit of stepping up and doing something, despite the ever-present risk of failure.
“What if you throw everything you have at something, and it still isn’t enough? Most people don’t ever face that conflict, because most people are afraid of that very outcome – so they don’t even try to make a difference because of that fear of failure,” Suffern says of the inspiration behind Running Blind. “That’s what resonated with me about this story; this challenge of people trying to make a difference in their own worlds and lives.”
The theme is apt for this year’s Mountainfilm Festival, which will tackle the issue of Climate Solutions in its Moving Mountains Symposium.
Suffern is no stranger to Mountainfilm: As the editor of the film Bidder 70, by local filmmakers Beth and George Gage, Suffern was on hand last year when the documentary about environmental activist Tim DeChristopher’s defiant act of civil disobedience screened at the festival. Suffern also edited the film Right to Play, directed by part-time Telluride resident Frank Marshall, which won the Audience Choice award at last year’s festival.
Suffern, who served as an assistant to Steven Spielberg before starting his own production company, Suckatash Productions, is back this Memorial Day weekend to unveil his newest project to the Mountainfilm community. Scott will also attend the premier, which is slated for 3:45 on Saturday at the Palm Theatre and will run in conjunction with a presentation from outdoor adventure photographer Kevin Connolly, who was born without legs.
Running Blind will also screen at the Sheridan Opera House at 12 p.m. on Sunday.
For Scott, the first public screening of the film carries with it the hope that his story will help raise awareness about an overlooked disease, and that a heightened level of awareness could help pave the way for a cure.
“There is something in the power of trying,” he says, noting that when he began raising money for research ten years ago he had no idea where to start. “I hope that through the film others will be inspired in some way to stand up and do something.”