Press release issued by the production team.
The feature documentary Unrest – formerly known as Canary in a Coalmine – has been selected as one of the highly anticipated narrative documentaries to receive a world premiere at The Sundance Film Festival at the Sundance resort in Utah, USA in January 19-29th 2017, it was announced today.
Director Jennifer Brea was a journalist and academic studying for a PhD at Harvard. Months before her wedding, she became progressively ill, losing the ability to even sit in a wheelchair. When told by her doctor it was “all in her head,” her response was to start filming from her bed, gradually deploying crews globally to document the world inhabited by millions of patients that medicine forgot.
Unrest tells the story of Jen and Omar, newlyweds facing the unexpected, and the four extraordinary M.E. patients that Jen meets throughout her journey, in the United States, UK and Denmark. Together, they explore how to make a life of meaning when everything changes. The film is a feat of disability filmmaking, made with an international team and using innovative technologies to allow the bedbound, disabled director to travel the world and film as if she’s in the room.
Unrest is a story of resilience in the face of life-changing loss, of how we treat people with illnesses we don’t fully understand yet, about how confronting the fragility of life can teach us its value, and ultimately, about the need we all have to connect.
Director & Producer Jennifer Brea said:
“I am thrilled and honored that this documentary film is launching at Sundance, one of the most prestigious international film festivals in the world. M.E. upended my life and I battle with its debilitating symptoms everyday. Still, it has been the privilege of my life to make this film. It is with thanks to the collaboration of an amazing team and a host of wonderful supporters that we have been able to share unheard stories of what it is to fight against a life-long, invisible illness.”
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.) is a systemic neuroimmune condition characterised by post-exertional malaise (a severe worsening of symptoms after even minimal exertion). It causes dysregulation of both the immune system and the nervous system. The effects of M.E. are devastating enough to leave 25% of patients housebound or bedbound. In many parts of the world, it is commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
It is estimated that at least 1,000,000 Americans, 250,000 British people, 100,000 Australians, and 100,000 Canadians have M.E. An estimated 75-85% of them are women and 80-90% of them are undiagnosed. *Estimates vary depending on the diagnostic criteria used.
Unrest is made with the generous support of:
Impact Partners, the William F. Harnisch Foundation, Chicken & Egg Pictures, BRITDOC’s Good Pitch, the Tribeca Film Institute, the Fledgling Fund, IFP, Women in Film Los Angeles, the Sundance Institute, and over 2,500 backers from a Kickstarter campaign in 2015.