Unrest (2017 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jennifer Brea|
|Produced by||Jennifer Brea, Lindsey Dryden, Patricia E. Gillespie, Alysa Nahmias, Deborah Hoffmann|
|Written by||Jennifer Brea, Kim Roberts|
|Music by||Bear McCreary|
|Cinematography||Sam Heesen, Christian Laursen|
|Edited by||Kim Roberts, Emiliano Battista|
Unrest is a 2017 documentary film produced and directed by Jennifer Brea. The film tells the story of how Jennifer and her new husband faced an illness that struck Jennifer just before they married.
Jennifer Brea is a Harvard PhD student about to marry the love of her life, when she is struck down by a fever that leaves her bedridden. Months before her wedding, she becomes progressively more ill, eventually losing the ability even to sit in a wheelchair. When doctors tell her it's "all in her head", she goes online and finds a hidden world of millions confined to their homes and bedrooms by myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), also commonly called chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
Unrest tells the story of Jennifer and her husband Omar Wasow, as newlyweds grappling with how to live in the face of a lifelong illness. In search of answers and initially bedbound, Jennifer sets off on a virtual voyage around the world, meeting four extraordinary ME patients in the US, UK, and Denmark. Their bedrooms connected by Skype and Facebook, these patients teach Jen how to make a life of meaning when everything changes.
Unrest is a first-person story of resilience in the face of life-altering loss, exploring how we treat people with illnesses we do not yet understand — how confronting the fragility of life teaches us its value and, ultimately, how we all have the need to find community and connection.
The production of Unrest began when Brea picked up the camera to film her symptoms because she was being dismissed by doctors in the spring of 2012.
Brea used a Skype teleprompter to conduct interviews, and eventually found a way to stream an on-set camera to her computer. Gradually, she built a global team. The whole process took four years. She was bedridden throughout much of the production of the film, conducting interviews on Skype and directing remotely with producers and crews around the world. The film is a combination of professionally shot vérité, self-filmed iPhone videos, and interviews conducted via Skype.
The film premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival on January 20. It was screened during the 2017 SXSW Film Festival in March. In fall of 2017, the film opened theatrically in the United States and United Kingdom.
The film was well-received. The Los Angeles Times called the film, "sensitive and arresting rally cry for increased awareness about this disease, and an existential exploration of the meaning of life while battling a crippling chronic illness...remarkably intimate, deeply edifying and a stirring call to action."
- 2017 Sundance Film Festival U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award For Editing
- 2017 RiverRun International Film Festival Audience Award For Best Documentary Feature
- 2017 Nashville Film Festival Grand Jury Prize Winner For Best Documentary Feature
- 2017 Sheffield Doc/Fest Illuminate Award
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- Jennifer Brea (January 15, 2018). "The time is here! Unrest is now available on @Netflix!..." Twitter. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
- "Filmmaker documents crippling autoimmune disease in stirring 'Unrest'". Los Angeles Times. 2017-09-28. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-11-12.
- Pedersen, Erik (2017-12-08). "Oscars: Documentary Feature Shortlist Cuts Field To 15". Deadline. Retrieved 2017-12-11.
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