Jennifer Brea is about to marry the love of her life when she’s struck down by a fever that leaves her bedridden. When doctors tell her “it’s all in her head,” she turns her camera on herself and her community as she looks for answers and fights for a cure.
Jennifer Brea's Sundance award-winning documentary, Unrest, is a personal journey from patient to advocate to storyteller. Jennifer is twenty-eight years-old, working on her PhD at Harvard, and months away from marrying the love of her life when a mysterious fever leaves her bedridden. When doctors tell her it's "all in her head," she picks up her camera as an act of defiance and brings us into a hidden world of millions that medicine abandoned.
In this story of love and loss, newlyweds Jennifer and Omar search for answers as they face unexpected obstacles with great heart. Often confined by her illness to the private space of her bed, Jennifer connects with others around the globe. Like a modern-day Odysseus, she travels by Skype into a forgotten community, crafting intimate portraits of four other families suffering similarly. Jennifer Brea's wonderfully honest and humane portrayal asks us to rethink the stigma around an illness that affects millions. Unrest is a vulnerable and eloquent personal documentary that is sure to hit closer to home than many could imagine.
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or ME/CFS, is a devastating multi-system disease that causes dysfunction of the neurological, immune, endocrine and energy metabolism systems.
It often follows an infection and leaves 75% of those affected unable to work and 25% homebound are bedridden. An estimated 15-30 million people worldwide have ME. (Learn more)
JENNIFER BREA, DIRECTOR AND PRODUCER
Jennifer Brea is an independent documentary filmmaker based in Los Angeles. She has an AB from Princeton University and was a PhD student at Harvard until sudden illness left her bedridden. In the aftermath, she rediscovered her first love, film. Her Sundance award-winning feature documentary, Unrest, has screened in over 30 countries and had its US national broadcast on PBS's Independent Lens. She is also co-creator of Unrest VR, winner of the Sheffield Doc/Fest Alternate Realities Award. An activist for people with disabilities and chronic illness, she co-founded a global advocacy network, #MEAction and is a TED Talker.
Unrest, her film debut, was awarded a Special Jury Prize at the Paley Center for Media's DocPitch competition and is supported by the Harnisch Foundation, Chicken & Egg Pictures, BRITDOC's Good Pitch, the Tribeca Film Institute, the Fledgling Fund and the Sundance Institute. jenbrea.com, @jenbrea
DEBORAH HOFFMANN, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER & CREATIVE ADVISOR
Deborah Hoffmann received an Academy Award nomination in 1995 for her documentary, Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter and again for Long Night's Journey into Day in 2000. She was the Executive Producer of the 2016 Oscar nominated short Extremis. She is also a widely acclaimed editor of such classic documentaries as the Oscar winning The Times of Harvey Milk, Ethnic Notions, and Color Adjustment. She has received two National Emmys, a Peabody, a DuPont Columbia Award, and a Rockefeller Fellowship. Deborah was a lecturer at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism from 2000 till 2009 at which time she had to resign due to ME/CFS. She has served on juries for the Sundance, San Francisco and Mill Valley Film Festivals and on the Independent Spirit Awards, and Gotham Awards. She is a member of the documentary branch of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.
LINDSEY DRYDEN, PRODUCER
Lindsey Dryden is an award-winning creative producer and director, and founder of Little By Little Films. She began her career in British TV documentaries in 2004 (BBC, Channel 4, History Channel) before Associate Producing hundreds of short films at Current TV, and then moving into independent films for cinema. Her acclaimed work as a director includes Lost and Sound and Close Your Eyes And Look At Me, and as a producer Unrest and Little Ones. She has made films with and for BBC, Channel 4, Wellcome Trust, Tate, Royal Court Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company and Hyundai, and her work has premiered at SXSW, True/False, Sundance, Sheffield DocFest, CPH:Dox, DocsDF and Art Of The Real. Most recently, Unrest won a Special Jury Award at Sundance 2017, and Lindsey has previously been nominated Best Female-Directed Film at Sheffield Doc/Fest, Best New UK Filmmaker at Open City Docs, and Best Producer at Underwire. As an impact producer, and a passionate advocate for creative bespoke distribution, she has worked on films including The Man Whose Mind Exploded and Angels & Ghosts, and delivered semi-theatrical campaigns with Picturehouse Cinemas, charities and universities across the UK. A proud member of Queer Producers Collective, Lindsey is a frequent speaker and mentor at film festivals, a Film Lecturer, a recent Filmmaker-In-Residence at Jacob Burns Film Center, a resident at Somerset House Studios and a Fellow of IFP, HotDocs Forum and Guiding Lights. She is currently making art films for Tate (the latest of which appears in the Queer British Art exhibition at Tate Britain), and directing a new hybrid fiction/doc mystery film about an incredible gender outlaw jazz musician. @Lindsey_Dryden
PATRICIA GILLESPIE, PRODUCER
Patricia E. Gillespie is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and Sundance Fellow. In addition to producing UNREST, she served as Line Producer on Sabaah Folyan's WHOSE STREETS, and is currently in production on her directorial debut, AMERICAN MONSTER, a non fiction series exploring the intersection of poverty and violence in the American South produced in concert with Morgan Spurlock's company, Warrior Poets. In her spare time, she produces commercial content for clients like Johnnie Walker, Nike, and Adidas. @PEGpics
ALYSA NAHMIAS, PRODUCER
Alysa Nahmias is an award-winning director and producer of nonfiction and narrative films. Her documentary Unfinished Spaces won a 2012 Independent Spirit Award and numerous festival prizes, and was selected for Sundance Film Forward. It is in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art. Her producing credits include Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil Le Clercq directed by Nancy Buirski with creative advisor Martin Scorsese (New York Film Festival, Berlinale, PBS’s American Masters); Shield and Spear by director Petter Ringbom (Hot Docs, Sheffield Doc/Fest); Tocando La Luz by Academy Award-nominated director Jennifer Redfearn (Full Frame, PBS); and the narrative feature No Light and No Land Anywhere by director Amber Sealey with executive producer Miranda July (Jury Prize, Los Angeles Film Festival 2016). She is currently producing the Sundance award-winner Unrest and directing a new documentary about American artist Jesse Krimes, who created a remarkable large-scale mural while incarcerated for six years in U.S. federal prison. @alysanahmias
ANNE TROLDTOFT HJORTH, CO-PRODUCER
Anne Troldtoft Hjorth began working in film production after receiving a grant from the Danida Grant Committee, founded by the Danish Foreign Ministry. She has been involved in Unrest as co-producer since February 2014, focusing on the film's production in Denmark, but also working on production in the UK and US.
Anne holds a Master's Degree in Journalism and has several years of experience in TV, radio production, and broadcasting, with primary experience from The Danish Broadcasting Corporation. She also has a Master's Degree in Middle East Studies, and has lived and worked in the Middle East for several years. As sub-editor at Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ), she was based in Amman, Jordan, and most recently she was based in Ramallah, West Bank, while working for a Danish NGO. Documentary production continues to bring her back to the region.
SAM HEESEN, CINEMATOGRAPHER
Sam Heesen was born in Sydney Australia, October 6th, 1988. When he was ten days old he moved to Bangladesh, where he lived for four years. From there he moved to Costa Rica, Indonesia, and India. At the age of 14 he moved to California and began working on films and thinking about light. He now works as a cinematographer in Los Angeles.
CHRISTIAN LAURSEN, CINEMATOGRAPHER
KIM ROBERTS, EDITOR/WRITER
Kim Roberts, A.C.E. is an Emmy-winning editor of feature documentaries. Her recent work includes The Hunting Ground, American Revolutionary: the Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs, Waiting for 'Superman' (Paramount), Food, Inc. (nominated for a 2010 Oscar®), Autism the Musical (HBO) and Inequality for All (Radius). Kim won an Emmy for Autism the Musical, her third nomination. She was nominated for an Eddie award for Food, Inc. and Waiting for ‘Superman’ from the American Cinema Editors.
Her other films include: Oscar® nominees and Sundance Grand Jury Prize winners Daughter from Danang and Long Night’s Journey Into Day; Last Call at the Oasis (Participant); Two Days in October (Peabody and Emmy winner ’06); Made in L.A. (Emmy winner ’09); The Fall of Fujimori (Sundance ’05); Lost Boys of Sudan (Independent Spirit Award ’04); Daddy & Papa (Sundance), and A Hard Straight (Grand Prize, SXSW). Kim received her Masters Degree in Documentary Film Production from Stanford University, where she won a Student Academy Award.
EMILIANO BATTISTA, EDITOR
Emiliano Battista is a London-based film editor of award winning feature documentaries, dramas and television programs. His films include 3 ½ Minutes, Ten Bullets (Special Jury Prize Sundance 2015, HBO); How is your Fish Today? with Chinese novelist and film-maker Xiaolu Guo (Sundance 2007); The Intimacy of Strangers; The Solitary Life of Cranes, Black Out, and Night, Peace with Eva Weber; Elvis Pelvis (Berlin Film Festival); Dolce Vita Africana, a portrait of Malian photographer Malik Sidibe; The Runner by Saeed Taji Farouky; and The Auction House, a tale of two brothers about the oldest auction house in India. Emiliano has also worked on multi-screen art installations shown in major exhibitions and museums worldwide: All That is Solid Melts into Air and No Permanent Address with Mark Boulos.
BEAR MCCREARY, COMPOSER
Bear McCreary studied composition and recording arts at USC, where he was the last protégé of film music legend Elmer Bernstein. McCreary landed his first scoring job out of college with Battlestar Galactica, which earned him a spot on Io9.com’s “Ten Best Science Fiction Composers of All Time.” He currently scores AMC’s The Walking Dead and ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., among others. McCreary won an Emmy for Outstanding Main Title Theme for Da Vinci’s Demons, and also received Emmy nominations for his work on Blacks Sails, Outlander, and Human Target. Some of McCreary’s film credits include Focus Features’ The Forest, Lakeshore Entertainment’s The Boy, and a recent collaboration with producer J.J. Abrams on 10 Cloverfield Lane. With numerous projects in the works, McCreary has validated Bernstein’s instincts, proving himself as one of the most versatile and in-demand composers in the industry.
JAMES LEBRECHT, SOUND DESIGNER & MIXER
James LeBrecht is a well-known film and theater sound designer and mixer, author, producer, and disability rights activist. He is the founder of Berkeley Sound Artists (BSA), an audio post-production house. BSA was the sound house for The Blood of Yingzhou District, the 2006 Academy Award® recipient for short documentary. Other credits include The Force, Unrest, The Waiting Room, The Devil and Daniel Johnston, Daughter From Danang, We Were Here, Bang: the Bert Berns Story, and Audrie & Daisy.
Jim’s work as an advocate for the rights of people with disabilities began in high school as a member of Disabled in Action, a pioneering disability rights group. He helped found the Disabled Students Union at UC San Diego in the mid-1970s. Currently, LeBrecht is a board member at the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, a leading organization working for the rights of the disabled through education, legislation, and litigation. @JimLeBrecht
Ruth Ann Harnisch
Donna Fairman Wilson
Regina K. Scully
Leslie Berriman & Nion McEvoy
Reid Hoffmann & Michelle Yee
Mitch and Debbie Menaged
Yvonne Huff Lee & Jason Delane Lee
Alex Usborne & Justin Edgar for 104 films
REGINA CLEMENTE, CHIEF OF STAFF
Regina Clemente is a veteran political operative now focusing her efforts on creating social change through documentary film distribution and impact campaigns. Prior to becoming Chief of Staff of Shella Films, she ran local, state, national, and global campaigns around issues of economic, racial, LGBTQ, and health justice through leadership positions at Brave New Films, Freedom to Marry, Blue State Digital, the L.A. LGBT Center, and Planned Parenthood. She holds an AB from Occidental College in Urban & Environmental Policy, lives in her native Los Angeles with her Tortiemese, Luna, and is an avid amateur photographer. letmecollectmyself.com
LAURIE JONES, GLOBAL IMPACT DIRECTOR
Laurie Jones is an impact producer and creative. She is thrilled to be the Impact Director for Unrest at Shella Films! Prior to this, she served as the Programs Director at Brave New Films, a social justice documentary film company featuring both feature length and short content. She also worked on the Why Poverty? film campaign and co-organized the York Human Rights Film Festival. As a creative, she is an ensemble member of Wishbone Theatre Collective, and a member of Impro Lab and Ripley Improv. She has a BA in Production Studies in Performing Arts from Clemson University and an MA in Applied Human Rights from the University of York.
ERICA ALES, US IMPACT CAMPAIGN MANAGER
Erica Ales brings years of experience in the documentary and social impact spaces. She has contributed to impact campaign strategy, implementation and evaluation for a number of documentary films, with topics including LGBTQ rights, girls' global eduction, the US criminal justice and foster care systems, and healing from sexual abuse. Most recently, she worked with Malala Fund to help build and execute the #withMalala global film campaign around the feature documentary, He Named Me Malala. Prior to impact campaign work, Erica helped produce capacity-building short films for local nonprofits in the Washington, DC area. Erica has a passion for using film and innovative media to drive significant and lasting social change.
LUCY WILSON, UK IMPACT PRODUCER
Lucy’s passion for film began as a crew member on two Channel Four feature films for the Children’s Film Unit. During school and university holidays she worked as a runner for various production companies. After graduating with a film degree, Lucy’s freelance roles ranged from stand in actor to costume assistant to production assistant on the feature remake of Alfie. She also cast extras for films including The Da Vinci Code.
After two subsequent years working in the BBC Children’s Press Office and International Licensing team, Lucy engaged her interest in charity work, travelling to Tanzania where she set up and raised funding for a charitable project called Mojakwamoja. This ran for six years, allowing children from Moshi town and a local orphanage to enjoy dance workshops and educational film screenings.
Lucy then worked in advertising at JWT and The Red Brick Road before assuming her role at ITV. Lucy co-developed the channel’s flagship fundraising appeal, Text Santa, for four years, managing all charities involved with it. She liaised with editorial teams, assisted in production of appeal films shown across all ITV channels, and helped the initiative raise over £32 million for 26 UK and International charities. Lucy is now a freelance producer working with comedy acts and on charity films and documentaries. She is very much looking forward to making a difference on Unrest.
LAURA HESS, ASSOCIATE PRODUCER
Laura Hess supports distribution and social impact for Unrest and creative development for Unrest VR, Unrest's virtual reality companion piece. A recent graduate of Northwestern University's Master of Science in Leadership for Creative Enterprises program, she also consults for Film Independent's Global Media Makers, Documentary Lab, and Fiscal Sponsorship programs. She has a background in theatre and developed experiential marketing and brand programming for Imagination, a creative agency.
SOPHIA KRUZ, ASSOCIATE PRODUCER
EMMY® Award winning documentary filmmaker Sophia Kruz's work has screened at film festivals and museums globally, and broadcast on PBS. Her debut feature documentary LITTLE STONES was awarded Best Documentary at the 2017 Vail Film Festival and Best Foreign Documentary at the 2017 Female Eye Film Festival. Formerly a producer in Detroit Public TV's National Documentary Unit, Kruz produced RIDE THE TIGER, an hour-long documentary on neuroscience and bipolar disorder, and BEYOND THE LIGHT SWITCH, (Hour 3), for national PBS broadcast.
In 2015, Kruz co-founded the non-profit organization Driftseed, which seeks to empower women and girls in the U.S. and around the world through the art of documentary storytelling. Kruz was the recipient of the 2015-2016 University of Michigan Center for the Education of Women Visiting Social Activist fellowship, and her documentary work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Womanity Foundation, Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs, and many others.
EMMA D. MILLER, ASSOCIATE PRODUCER
Emma D. Miller is a producer and programmer. She was previously the programming manager at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, NC, where she oversaw all submissions to the festival and managed the film selection process. She has screened for several international film festivals and consulted on festival strategy, distribution, and outreach for documentary films, including serving as an associate producer on Knife Skills, a short documentary directed by Oscar winner Tom Lennon, currently in post-production.
Emma has worked with Netflix, National Public Radio, PBS's POV, and WNYC's Studio 360, and she has contributed to NPR.org, Documentary Magazine, North Carolina Public Radio, and other outlets as a writer and radio producer. Emma holds a certificate from the Center for Documentary Studies and B.A. from Duke University, where she was a Robertson Scholar. @EmmaDMiller