About the Film

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. MORE

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.

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. LESS

Film Credits

Directed by
Jennifer Brea

Written by
Jennifer Brea
Kim Roberts

Produced by
Jennifer Brea
Lindsey Dryden
Patricia E. Gillespie
Alysa Nahmias

Co-Produced by
Anne Troldtoft Hjorth

Executive Producer & Creative Advisor
Deborah Hoffmann

Cinematography by
Sam Heesen
Christian Laursen

Edited by Kim Roberts, A.C.E.
Emiliano Battista

Music by
Bear McCreary

Consulting Producer
Kiran Chitanvis

Associate Producers
Blake Ashman
Sophia Kruz
Emma D. Miller

Field Producer
Kat Mansoor

Associate Field Producer
Adam Drosin
Kyle Porter

Assistant Field Producer
Jess Burgess

Additional Cinematography
Laura Bellingham
Nicholas Berger
Danielle Bernstein
Jennifer Brea
Dan Brohawn
Shane Collins
Emma Critchley
Sara Deane
Ryan DeFranco
Jennifer Fearnley
Patricia E. Gillespie
Tom Goudsmit
Zachary Halberd
Laela Kilbourn
Stephan Knuesel
Adam Kolodny
Dan Krauss
Megan Mancini
Bobby Moser
Susanne Salavati
Emilia Sauaia
Nazare Soares

Archival Consultant
Amy Brown

Archival Researchers
Samantha Kerzner
Susan Ricketts

Jaime Seltzer

First Assistant Editor
Delaney Lynch

Assistant Editors
Benjamin Abrams
Elizabeth Phillips
Mary Stafford
Sally Volkmann
Mallory Yarnall

Additional Editors
Jennifer Brea
Tina Grapenthin

Production Sound Mixers
Nikky French
Kyle Porter

Additional Sound
Randy Dzielak
Brian Flood
Emily Fraser
Lauretta Molitor
Patrick Shaffer
Patrick Southern

Assistants to Jennifer Brea
Jennifer Allen
Amanda Folden
Krista Abela

Post-Production Coordinator
Omar Haq

Hanne Arnold
Eva Greene
Sarah Johansen
Matthaeus Szumanski

Additional Transcription
Madeleine Arellano
Cassandra Ingrasci

Score Conducted by
Bear McCreary

Score Produced by
Bear McCreary & Steve Kaplan

Score Mixed and Recorded by
Steve Kaplan

Additional Mixing by
Ryan Sanchez
Laurence Schwarz

Recording Engineers
Ryan Sanchez
Laurence Schwarz
Ryan Walsh

Music Editor
Denise Slenski

Scoring Manager
Joanna Pane

Scoring Coordinator
Kaiyun Wong

Additional Music by
Jason Akers
Omer Ben-Zvi

Scoring Assistants
Jonathan Chau
Sam Ewing
Andrew Harris
David Matics

Assistant to the Composer
John Grannan

Music Consultants
Edward Trybeck
Henri Wilkinson

Music Clearance
Matt Lilley

Audio Post-Production
Berkeley Sound Artists

Post-Production Sound Facilities
Bad Robot

Graphics by
Syd Garon
Christopher Kirk
San Charoenchai
Ana Gomez Bernaus
Andrew Hoeveler
Paul Griswold

Additional Graphic Design by
Jessica Dillon

Andrew Balis

Online Editor
Harry Locke, IV

Digital Intermediate Producer
Matt Radecki

Post-Production Services by
Different By Design

Production Legal Services Provided by
Justine Jacobs

Filmed on Location at
Burrswood Hospital
Nova Southeastern University
Stanford University


"Duke of Earl"
Written by Eugene Dixon, Earl Edwards and Bernice Williams
Performed by Gene Chandler
Courtesy of Vee Jay Records
Used by permission of Concord Music Group, Inc.

“Love Came Here”
Written and Performed by Lhasa De Sela
Courtesy of Audiogram

Written and Performed by Ren Gill
Courtesy of Ren Gill

Archival Material Courtesy of
Seiji Arihara
Jennifer Brea
Robbins Barstow
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
FILM Archives, Inc.
Ren Gill
Image Bank Film/Getty Images
Viveka Jagadeesan
Japan ME Association
Kate Jones
Jonas Koch
Vanessa Li
Matt Remes
Mieko Shinohara
Serena Thomson
tunart/Getty Images
U.S. National Library of Medicine
Video 77 Limited
Adam Weisman
Ben White/Los Angeles Public Library
Wellcome Library
Yale University, Harvey Cushing / John Hay Whitney Medical Library (A La Salpetriere)

Additional Material Provided by
Arizona Republic
Armstrong & Getty Show
British Medical Journal
CBS News
Cincinnati Enquirer
"Fame" by Ricky Gervais
Fox News
Herald-Examiner Collection (Photo by Ben White)
Larry King Live/CNN
Long Beach Independent
NBC News
New York Times
North American Newspaper Alliance
Primetime Live/ABC
Reno Evening Gazette
Sky News Arabia
The Canberra Times
The Cumberland News
The Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners
The Los Angeles Times
The Morning News
The Oprah Winfrey Show
The Pantagraph
The Yorkshire Post
Þór Magnússon (Photo by Sigfús Eymundsson)
Department of Medicine, Queens University and Edward John Noble Hospital

Fiscal Sponsor
Utah Film Center
Women Make Movies

Funding Provided by
Artemis Rising Foundation
Menaged Foundation
John A. Gunn
William F. Harnisch Foundation, Inc.
Taliaferro Family Fund
The Mara and Ricky Sandler Foundation
Donna Wilson
Silicon Valley Community Foundation
The Lagralane Group, LLC
Lisa Gunn
Kevin Frick and Michelle Thies
Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program
Michael M. Byram
Li Lu Humanitarian Foundation
Influence Film Foundation
Ruth Ann Harnisch
And others. A complete list available from PBS.

UNREST is a co-production of Shella Films and Little by Little Films, in association with Impact Partners and Chicken & Egg Pictures.

This program was produced by Canary in a Coal Mine LLC, which is solely responsible for its content.

© 2017 Canary in a Coal Mine LLC. All rights reserved.

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.


  • 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
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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.