Film Info
Event Type:Film
Film Type:Documentary Feature
Release Year:2017
Run Time:97 minutes
Production Country:United Kingdom/United States
Original Language:English
Cast/Crew Info
Director:Jennifer Brea


“Unrest” has been shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and is one of 15 films vying for one of the five nominations.

Twenty-eight year-old Jennifer Brea is working on her PhD at Harvard and months away from marrying the love of her life when she gets a mysterious fever that leaves her bedridden and looking for answers.

Disbelieved by doctors (who tell her “it’s all in her head”) yet determined to live, she turns her camera on herself and discovers a hidden world of millions confined to their homes and bedrooms by ME, commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome.

Many ME patients have experienced uncertainty, confusion and even disbelief from the medical community and society as a whole. After all, it’s easy to ignore a disease when patients are too sick to leave their homes. In “Unrest”, Jennifer shares her pain and the most intimate moments of her life in order to offer hope and visibility to those who suffer alone in dark, silent rooms.

Utilizing Skype and social media, Jennifer unlocks a forgotten community with intimate portraits of four other families suffering similarly.  Jennifer’s wonderfully honest portrayal asks us to rethink the stigma around an illness that affects millions of people. “Unrest” is a vulnerable and eloquent personal documentary that is sure to hit closer to home than many could imagine.

At its core, “Unrest” is a love story. Together, Jen and her new husband, Omar, must find a way to build a life and fight for a cure. Jennifer and Omar may have to accept that they will never live the life they originally dreamed about. Their struggle to forge their relationship while dealing with her mysterious illness is at once heartbreaking, inspiring and funny.

“Unrest” world-premiered January in the documentary competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, where it won a Special Jury Prize for editing. It has since screened at SxSW, CPH:DOX, HotDocs, River Run (Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature), the Nashville Film Festival (Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature), among Sheffield Doc/Fest (Illuminate Award). It also has a companion VR piece which premiered at Tribeca and won the Jury Award for best VR at Sheffield/DocFest.

The 4 p.m. screening will be followed by an audience discussion and Q&A hosted by special guest panelist Cort Johnson (ME patient and 2016 Special Service Award recipient from IACFS/ME), Theresa Dowell (recovered ME patient and DNP | PT Family Nurse Practitioner and Physical Therapist specializing in the treatment of ME), and Cheryl Boese (ME patient, former registered nurse, and Congressional team member with MEAction)!

About the panelists:

Cort Johnson came down with chronic fatigue syndrome/fibromyalgia around 1980 while at the University of Santa Cruz in California. He received a BA in Philosophy from Cal State Long Beach in the late 1980's and an MS in Environmental Studies from San Jose State University around 2000.

Committed to create a site devoted to understanding ME/CFS he opened a very basic (Frontpage) content based site around 2004 called Phoenix Rising. By 2010 with the addition of a blog and a Forum package and hundreds of articles/blogs, Phoenix Rising had become the most visited website devoted to ME/CFS on the internet.

In December 2012, with the help of the Simmaron Foundation, Cort left Phoenix Rising to form Health Rising and has since produced hundreds of blogs on ME/CFS and fibromyalgia.

Theresa Dowell is a family nurse practitioner, physical therapist, and founder of Four Peaks Healthcare Associates, a medical clinic in Flagstaff, Arizona, dedicated to the treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. A former runner and mountain biker, she became ill with CFS in 2005. Initially housebound, she credits her improved health to her ability, as a physical therapist, to maneuver through our complex medical system. As her health improved, she made a commitment to obtain the education necessary to help those who also suffer with this debilitating illness. Theresa received her Bachelor of Nursing and Master of Physical Therapy at Northern Arizona University. She continued her education at Duke University where she received her Master of Nursing Science and Doctorate of Nursing Practice. She received her specialized training in the field of Chronic Fatigue from the top clinicians and researchers in the field including: Jose Montoya, MD of Stanford University, John Chia, MD of ID Medical Associates and Lucinda Bateman, MD of Bateman Horne Center.

Cheryl was a Registered Nurse for 23 years before becoming disabled by ME/CFS in January 2015. Formerly living in the Bay Area, she was a co-organizer for #Millionsmissing in San Francisco, and a Congressional team member with MEAction. She has been a participant in four ME/CFS research studies, and served briefly as a patient advocate on Stanford's Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Research Advisory Committee. Currently living in Prescott, Cheryl is a member of the newly established Arizona chapter of MEAction.

Join us for this powerful, Oscar shortlisted film and a thought-provoking conversation.