Four years ago, I wrote that Jen Brea’s film, then titled Canary In A Coal Mine, could be a defining moment in ME advocacy. Today, we stand on the threshold of a watershed moment for our disease, and Jen is asking for our help.
Jen finished her film, now titled Unrest (here’s the trailer), and it is very very good. The film has won awards at Sundance, River Run, Nashville Film Festival, and the Sheffield Doc/Fest. Not only that, but the film will be released in select theaters this fall. AND the film will also air on PBS Independent Lens in January 2018.
Think about that for a minute: a film about ME is winning awards, will air in theaters and will be shown on PBS. As an ME activist for close to twenty years, I can honestly say that I have only dreamed of this kind of publicity.
Back in October 2013, I was impressed by Jen’s approach to storytelling. I wrote:
What makes people want to support this film is the intimate connection with Brea and others featured in it. It’s the story that pulls you in, and the story that makes you want to do something to help. If that’s true of the Kickstarter, it can be true of the film. And that could be a defining moment. We’ve longed for and dreamed of widespread public attention to the realities of having ME/CFS. Canary In A Coal Mine could deliver. . . . I would like to believe that the galvanization of our movement is at hand: that our story will be HEARD and SEEN. I would like to believe that change is coming.
That moment is here.
In conjunction with the film’s theatrical release, Jen and her team are launching #TimeforUnrest. This is an impact campaign to mobilize the public, educate health care providers, and inspire new researchers to enter the field.
Ambitious? Yes. Possible? Given Jen’s track record so far, absolutely! Over the past four years, Jen has repeatedly demonstrated her commitment to high quality work, and informed, action-oriented activism.
Here’s what you can do: check out the Kickstarter campaign and donate if you can. Whether you are able to contribute money or not, spread the word to your family and friends. There are 13 days left to go, and a little over $40,000 to raise (as of August 12th at 12 pm).
We helped Jen make this film. She leveraged our resources to get support from many many others. Now she is offering us not only a great film, but the structure to leverage the film into the social change we need so desperately.
I want everyone to see Unrest, but I especially want health care providers to see it. I want people who doubt the reality of ME to see it. I want a wave of public compassion and commitment to action to crash down on NIH and force a meaningful, sustained response to this public health crisis.
I’ve been sick for almost 23 years, and I have come to recognize that I will never regain much more function than I currently have. My activism is now about forcing change so that someone who has just fallen ill will not be sentenced to a life of being unable to fulfill one’s full potential. This is our moment. It’s time for unrest.
Disclosure: I am a financial backer of both the film Kickstarter and the current #TimeforUnrest Kickstarter. I was also interviewed for the film.