There is one more screening of Unrest at the CPH:DOX film festival on March 24th, and then Unrest heads to the RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem on March 31st.
Unrest made its international and European premiere in Copenhagen, Denmark at CPH:DOX, one of the leading festivals for documentary film in the world, on March 17.
Prior to the Copenhagen premiere, three major Danish newspapers – Politiken, Weekendavisen and Information – wrote about the film, about Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), and about the tragic story of Karina Hansen, a 24-year-old Danish ME patient who three years ago was removed from her home by police in order to undergo forced psychiatric treatment for her ME. The story of Karina and her parents is part of the documentary, which tells the stories of people with ME and their families around the world. Ketty Hansen, mother of Karina, attended the premiere in Copenhagen.
Weekendavisen called Unrest “unsettling.”
“It is about people who are reduced to shadow existences, but, moreover, because it shows how enigmatic disorders can become veritable battle zones where medical specialties fight over territory, and where patients and doctors fight over the proper treatment approach.”
Kit Løvberg Madsen, who is helping to organize a #MillionsMissing Day of Action on May 12th in Denmark, described the screening as a healing experience for both people suffering with the disease and for their caretakers.
“To us it was a lot more than another night at the cinema,” Madsen said. “Many of us had never met before, but, that night, the ME community became very real and the small Danish ME community was tapping into the world community of ME.”
For the past five months, Madsen has been working with a few other activists to organize the upcoming #MillionsMissing action in Denmark, which will focus on raising public awareness for ME as a serious biomedical disease.
“Most people, doctors and others alike, have never heard about ME, and it’s a huge job for every single patient to explain again and again and again,” Madsen said. “And when you have done that people still don’t understand. We’re starting the advance from the lowest step of the staircase!”
Unrest co-producer, Jennifer Brea, said the premiere in Copenhagen was incredibly emotional for her, as well.
“Not only has the film already had an impact beyond my wildest imaginings, but when I first started making it three years ago, I feared I would never be able to leave my house again, much less cross an ocean.
“The feeling in the room last night is hard to put into words – it was so loving, so vulnerable. It reminded me that while no one would ever chose to be a resident of this strange, transnational Republic of ME, what we share as part of this community transcends language, culture or country. There is power in that.”
Brea said the film also pushes the reset button on the conversation around ME in Denmark, an effect she hopes will reverberate throughout Scandinavia.
“We are so glad to be bringing this film to Scandinavia, a region that has been home to some of the most exciting scientific advancements in recent memory – uncovering evidence of autoimmunity and metabolic dysfunction in ME patients – while also seeing some of the most unsettling cases of forced institutionalization on the basis of the belief that ME is a psychological illness,” Brea wrote about premiering Unrest in Copenhagen.
“We hope that Unrest can help bring to light this contradiction, start a public conversation and through it, increase support for research and for patient rights.”