Independent Lens "Unrest"

Independent Lens "Unrest"

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 10:00pm - 11:30pm

Disbelieved by doctors, Jennifer Brea turns the camera on herself to reveal the hidden world of ME.

Credit: Courtesy of Jason Frank Rothenberg

Follow filmmaker Jennifer Brea’s struggle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and meet others coping with this often-devastating and little-understood condition in this intimate 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 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 airing Monday, Janaury 8, 2017 at 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.

This  program 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. It is part of a year-long initiative called Move to Include, a project funded by the Golisano Foundation 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.