January 08, 2018


Jennifer Brea

Follow filmmaker Jennifer Brea’s struggle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in this intimate documentary.


About the Documentary

Filmmaker Jennifer Brea was a Harvard PhD student soon to be engaged when she was struck down by a mysterious fever that left her bedridden. As her illness progressed she lost even the ability to sit in a wheelchair, yet doctors insisted it was “all in her head.” Unable to convey the seriousness and depth of her symptoms to her doctor, Jennifer began a video diary on her phone that eventually became the powerful and intimate documentary, Unrest.  Once Jennifer was diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), she and her new husband, Omar, were left to grapple with how to shape a future together in the face of a lifelong illness.

Refusing to accept the limitations of life in bed, Jennifer embarks on an online voyage around the world where she finds a hidden community of millions who have disappeared from their own lives, confined to their homes and bedrooms by ME. Using the internet, Skype, and Facebook, these disparate people connect with each other, finding a much-needed sanctuary of support and understanding.

At its core, Unrest is a love story. Though Jennifer and Omar may never live the life they originally dreamed about, together they find resilience, strength, and meaning in each other and their new-found community.

The Filmmakers

Jennifer Brea

Jennifer Brea is an independent documentary filmmaker based in Los Angeles. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Princeton University and was a PhD student at Harvard until a sudden illness left her bedridden. In the aftermath, she rediscovered her first love, film. Her feature documentary, Unrest, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, where it won a Special Jury Prize. She is also co-creator of Unrest VR, winner of the Sheffield Doc/Fest Alternate Realities Award. An activist for invisible disabilities and chronic illness, she co-founded a global advocacy network, #MEAction, and is a TED Talker.

Full Credits


  • Independent Lens Audience Award

  • Sundance Film Festival

    Special Jury Prize Documentary Editing

  • Sundance Film Festival

    Grand Jury Prize, Documentary (Nomination)

  • Sheffield International Documentary Festival

    Alternate Realities Virtual Reality Award + Illuminate Award

  • RiverRun International Film Festival

    Audience Choice Award Best Documentary Feature

  • Cinema Eye Honors Awards

    The Unforgettables

Learn more about the documentary

Join the Discussion

Have you been in a situation where medicine was not providing answers for a health situation? Where did you turn? Tell us your own stories of overcoming adversity and finding community.


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