“Unrest” details Brea’s fight to overcome the disabling disease Myalgic Encephalomyelitis — commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It will have its U.S. theatrical premiere on Sept.22 in New York, then open in Los Angeles and San Francisco on September 29, followed by a nationwide release to select cities. “Unrest” will open in theaters in the U.K. on October 20.
“Unrest” is one of the first titles to be released with the support of Sundance Institute’s Creative Distribution Fellowship, aimed at empowering entrepreneurial Sundance filmmakers.
Keri Putnam, executive director of Sundance Institute, said, “The dedication and creativity of Jennifer Brea and her team has made Unrest a truly special film. This wonderfully honest, vulnerable and eloquent portrayal asks us to rethink the stigma around a condition that affects millions of people. We’re very proud that our inaugural Creative Distribution Fellowship is aiding this team in retaining control of their powerful film and connecting it with eager audiences around the globe.”
Brea’s film covers her being a Harvard PhD student soon to be engaged to the love of her life when she’s struck down by a mysterious fever that leaves her bedridden. She becomes progressively more ill, eventually losing the ability to even sit in a wheelchair, but doctors tell her it’s “all in her head.” She began a video diary on her iPhone that eventually becomes the feature documentary film “Unrest.”
Once Jennifer is diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), more commonly called chronic fatigue syndrome, she and her new husband are left to grapple with how to live with the consequences of a lifelong illness. She goes on an virtual voyage around the world where she finds a hidden community of millions confined to their homes and bedrooms by ME.
In his Sundance review for Variety, Dennis Harvey gave the movie a positive notice: “Proceeding at a measured pace — no film about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome should be over-energetic — ‘Unrest’ ably juggles content that’s wide-ranging enough in tone, style and information to prevent the film over-dwelling on Brea’s personal laments.”
“Unrest” won a Sundance Special Jury Prize for Documentary Editing. It also screened at Hotdocs, SXSW, Nashville Film Festival, Dallas International Film Festival, Cleveland International Film Festival and Sheffield Doc Fest.