Unrest makes headlines in Denmark

Unrest made major headlines at its international premiere at CPH:DOX in Copenhagen. Major articles in Politiken, Weekendavisen and Information discussed the film, the controversy over the treatment of ME in Denmark, and the Karina Hansen case.


New film about chronic fatigue: their cells are sick - doctors and friends say they just need to get their act together

American documentary about Jennifer Brea with chronic fatigue syndrome dishes harsh criticism against Danish health. "We are of course called mentally ill and mistreated," said Danish patient. The film has European premiere at CPH: DOX today.

Danish patient Anja Freitag:

"I feel I have a broken battery.  How your can light 38 lamps can be my only turn 2. However, until the battery is drained, I can, in principle, the same as you and looks quite healthy. So one can not look at me that I am ill.  It emptied unfortunately just very quickly. Your will probably never emptied, whereas ME patients constantly hitting the wall, "she says.

"It is a strong voice [Unrest], showing the world that we exist. And are really sick. It gives a good picture of how debilitating the disease is, "said Anja Freitag afterwards.

Ny film om kronisk trætte: Deres celler er syge – læger og venner siger, de bare skal tage sig sammen

Amerikansk dokumentarfilm om Jennifer Brea med kronisk træthedssyndrom retter en hård kritik mod det danske sundhedsvæsen. »Vi bliver jo kaldt psykisk syge og fejlbehandlet«, siger dansk patient. Filmen har europapremiere på CPH:DOX i dag.

Dansk patient Anja Freitag:

»Jeg føler, at jeg har et ødelagt batteri. Hvor dit kan tænde 38 lamper, kan mit kun tænde 2. Men indtil batteriet er tømt, kan jeg i princippet det samme som du og ser helt rask ud. Så kan man slet ikke se på mig, at jeg er syg. Det tømmes desværre bare meget hurtigt. Dit bliver formentligt aldrig tømt, hvorimod ME-patienter konstant rammer muren«, siger hun.

»Det er en stærk stemme [Unrest], der viser omverden, at vi eksisterer. Og er rigtig syge. Den giver et godt billede af, hvor invaliderende sygdommen er«, siger Anja Freitag bagefter.



The film, which has just had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and now appears at CPH: DOX, providing an unsettling portrait of the disease chronic fatigue syndrome. Unsettling, because it is about people who are reduced to shadow existences, but moreover because it shows how enigmatic disorders can become veritable battle zones where medical specialties fight over territory, and where patients and doctors fighting over the proper treatment approach.

Filmen, der netop har haft premiere på Sundance Film Festival og nu vises på CPH:DOX, leverer et uhyggeligt portrait af sygdommen kronisk traethedssyndrom. Uhyggeligt, fordi det handler om mennesker, som er reduceret til skyggeeksistenser, men nok så meget, fordi det viser, hvordan gådefulde lidelser kan blive veritable kampzoner, hvor medicinske specialer strides om territorium, og hvor patienter og laeger slås om den rette behandlingstilgang.


Do you have to shoot your own illness to show that you’re not crazy?

When journalist and Ph.D student at Harvard Jennifer Brea was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, she turned the camera on himself and documented a life characterized by unexplained and inhuman pain. The documentary ’Unrest’, which will premiere on CHP: DOX tomorrow, also points to major conflicts on the treatment of the disease at home

Er man nødt til at filme sin egen sygdom for at vise, man ikke er tosset?

Da journalist og ph.d. studerende på Harvard Jeniffer Brea fik diagnosen kronisk træthedssyndrom, vendte hun kameraet mod sig selv og dokumenterede et liv præget af uforklarlige og umenneskelige smerter. Dokumentaren ’Unrest’, som har premiere på CHP:DOX i morgen, peger også på store konflikter om behandlingen af sygdommen herhjemme

Post-Sundance News

We’re finally back from Park City after an amazing experience at the World Premiere of Unrest at the Sundance Film Festival. We couldn’t have asked for a better reception from audiences (and critics!), and it’s been deeply gratifying and profoundly moving to begin bringing this story to the public. For those of you who were with us at the festival — and to those of you who have sent your support through emails, social media, and virtual love — thank you.

Amid the tears, hugs, and standing ovations, our time at Sundance came with some exciting news. We’re honored to have received the Special Jury Prize for Editing in Documentary, a credit to our incredible editors Kim Roberts and Emiliano Battista.

We’re also excited to announce that our next stop on the festival circuit will be SXSW in Austin, Texas! Unrest will be screening as part of the Festival Favorites section. The festival is March 10–19, 2017. Our screening dates are still to be announced, but we hope to see some of you there!

Finally, at long last, we’re beyond thrilled to share that Unrest will be coming to public television, an outlet accessible to all. We’ll have our US broadcast premiere on PBS's Independent Lens, a series watched by over 1.2 million viewers each week, in early 2018! (For more on our distribution timeline, read our FAQ.)

We couldn't be doing this without you. Thank you for your continued support!

"Canary in a Coal Mine" is now UNREST

We have some big news I want to share: we’re officially changing the name of "Canary in a Coal Mine" to "Unrest." Over the last three years, I’ve grown very attached to the name Canary, but it needed to change and I want to tell you why.

First, one of the defining challenges of this illness has been the horrible name, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Doctors, media, coworkers and even loved ones misinterpret us as just being tired, and often even accuse seriously ill patients of being lazy.

The truth is, patients who have been bedridden for years are not tired or lazy or ‘resting’; they are in a constant state of fighting just to be alive. Whether you are mild or severe, you know how hard it can be to push through, day in and day out. Even when we might look like we’re resting, it’s a fight. I wanted a name that represented that struggle. Unrest describes the experience of all of us who are constantly resisting both the limits of our bodies and the larger social stigmas that have held back equal access to treatment and care.

Second, one of the most exciting developments over the last year has been the rise of a global movement of patients and allies coming together to fight for health equality. The folks drawing attention to the are also engaged in a form of unrest. We are attempting to disrupt the status quo that consigns desperately sick people to the margins of medicine and society. Coming together, engaging in collective “unrest” – I wanted to capture some of that spirit in the title, too.

Finally, Unrest represents the hope we all share: that with a real investment in this disease, we can discover the root causes and develop treatments. Then maybe someday we can “un-rest” and get back to our lives. 

In 2013, the midst of our Kickstarter campaign, one patient said, “It’s an uprising from our beds.” I’ve returned to that phrase again and again when thinking about how this film might do good in the world. I want people outside of our circles of ME patients, friends and family to see how we, people with so little to spare, are coming together, loving and supporting each other and challenging some of the biggest forces in society. Whether in bed, at work, or outside of government offices, we are in a state of unrest for our health and for justice.