Momentum is Building

We have a few upcoming screenings of Unrest that we wanted to make sure were on your radar! This weekend, we’ll be screening at two different documentary film festivals: DocLands, in Marin County, California, and DOXA, in Vancouver, Canada. Tickets are still available for our DocLands screenings, so please spread the word to anyone you know in those areas!

This past month of festival screenings has been hugely successful for audience building and awareness. We premiered a preview of our virtual reality project, Unrest VR, at the Tribeca Film Festival’s Virtual Arcade. Unrest VR is an interactive, immersive journey into Jen’s experience of ME, contrasting the painful solitary confinement of a bedroom world with the kinetic freedom of an inner dreamscape. We got great feedback around and coverage of our project, which gives users the first-person POV of having a disabling chronic illness, and we’re excited to further develop the experience.

Jen headed from Tribeca to her hometown of Orlando, Florida, for the Florida Film Festival, where she spoke on a panel of women filmmakers and screened Unrest for an audience of friends, family, and supporters. We were beyond moved to learn that some audience members had driven nearly three hours to attend the screening. To those folks — your enthusiasm and commitment are unbelievable, and we can’t wait until the film is widely available so that you can share it with your community!

We rounded out the month and ushered in May with our Canadian premiere at Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary film festival and marketplace. We were thrilled by the press we got around the film, and what that meant for visibility for ME: Jen did a radio interview with the CBC, and Unrest was prominently featured on the front page of the Toronto Star arts section.

Most of all, Hot Docs proved a powerful opportunity for us to connect with Canadian audiences. The two screenings Jen attended were deeply emotional. Audiences candidly shared their personal experiences of ME and chronic illness and lined up after the Q&A to sign up for our email list and join our global movement for impact. We look forward to staying in touch with everyone we met at those screenings. If you’re looking to get involved, you can sign up to host a screening or contribute to our impact campaign, to start.

Finally, some exciting news: Unrest won the Audience Award at the River Run International Film Festival and, most recently, the Grand Jury Award at the Nashville Film Festival. We’re so honored by this recognition of what we’re all trying to do, together.

More to come!

With gratitude,

Jen & the Unrest team


For a full list of upcoming screenings, visit our website or our Facebook events page.

Let's take this show on the road!

Immediately after our SXSW screenings, Unrest made its international and European premiere in Copenhagen, Denmark, at CPH:DOX, one of the leading festivals for documentary film in the world.

Jen and Omar attended the festival — Jen's first time traveling internationally since she got sick — and had the opportunity to meet Ketty Hansen, mother of Karina Hansen, a young Danish ME patient who three years ago was forcibly removed from her home by police in order to undergo psychiatric treatment for her ME.


In the 24 hours before our premiere, articles about Unrest, ME, and Karina Hansen appeared in three different major Danish newspapersPolitikenWeekendavisen, and Information. Jen also appeared on the popular Danish television program DR2 Dagen, discussing her experience with ME and the making of the film. This is a major reset of the conversation in Denmark, one we hope will reverberate throughout Scandinavia.

After the screenings, we spoke with doctors who pledged to become allies and bring this film to medical school campuses. Patients and caregivers spoke of feeling seen and represented. We felt a clear sense of community transcending language, culture, or country.

The list of festivals we'll be screening at is ever-growing. We just screened the film at the RiverRun International Film Festival in North Carolina, where we took home the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature. In the coming days, weeks, and months, we'll be screening the film at the Florida Film Festival (Jen's hometown festival!), Nashville Film Festival, Louisiana Int'l Film Festival, and many more. Each of these festivals provides new audiences, new visibility, and new opportunities to shape the narrative around ME patients, chronic illness, and invisible disabilities. Here's what North Carolina's Triad City Beat had to say about Unrest in their preview coverage of RiverRun:

Brea knits together a global community in a way that is beautiful and empowering. Her voice lifts a film that is both charged with urgency and slowed down to the speed of a disease that freezes lives in place while the world seems to pass by. “Sickness doesn’t terrify me, and death doesn’t terrify me,” Brea says. “What terrifies me is that you can disappear because someone’s telling the wrong story about you.”

We’ll also be screening at Hot Docs in Toronto later this month. Hot Docs is North America's largest documentary film festival, conference, and market, and we're honored to be making our Canadian premiere there. Soon after, we'll head west to DOXA in Vancouver. We're keeping busy!

For a full list of upcoming screenings, visit our website or our Facebook events page.

We're so excited for all that's to come. Thank you for everything you've done to support this journey. We could never have done it without you - and this is only the beginning!

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!