Independent Lens "Unrest"

(Rochester, NY) – 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 her 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. Written, directed, and produced by Brea, Unrest an Independent Lens  presentation airs Monday, January 8, 2018, 10 p.m. on WXXI-TV.

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. Says Brea: “It’s my hope that in sharing this world and these people I have come to profoundly love, that we can build a movement to transform the lives of patients with ME, accelerate the search for a cure, and bring a greater level of compassion, awareness, and empathy to millions upon millions of patients and their loved ones wrestling with chronic illness or invisible disabilities.”

This documentary is part of Dialogue on Disability, a partnership between WXXI and Al Sigl Community of Agencies designed to stimulate community dialogue about the perspectives and abilities of people with physical and intellectual disabilities. During the week-long initiative, which runs January 8 through January 14, 2018, WXXI presents special programming on TV, radio, and at the Little Theatre. 

Dialogue on Disability is made possible through support from the Fred L. Emerson Foundation. The partnership between WXXI and Al Sigl Community of Agencies is supported by the Golisano Foundation and Move to Include, a project designed to build a more inclusive community by inspiring and motivating people to embrace different abilities and include all people in every aspect of community life.

Pictured: Filmmaker Jennifer Brea
Credit: Courtesy of Jason Frank Rothenberg

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WXXI Media Contact:

Kristin Tutino

Creative Services Department

585-258-0253
pressroom@wxxi.org

 



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