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Project of the Day: A Rare Disease Gets the Feature Film Treatment in ‘Canary in a Coal Mine’

Project of the Day: A Rare Disease Gets the Feature Film Treatment in 'Canary in a Coal Mine'

Here’s your daily dose of an indie film in progress; at the end of the week, you’ll have the chance to vote for your favorite.

In the meantime: Is this a movie you’d want to see? Tell us in the comments.

“Canary in a Coal Mine

Tweetable Logline: 

A film about life with M.E., the most prevalent and devastating disease your doctor has never heard of.

Elevator Pitch:

Canary In A Coal Mine is the story of one of the worlds most
prevalent, devastating, and misunderstood diseases. It follows Jennifer
as she documents her own story and the stories of several extraordinary
individuals struggling to find their way, fight, accept and sometimes
even thrive in spite of “an illness that has no end”. At its heart, the
film asks: what does this illness signify about the world we live in and
what do we all risk by ignoring the voices of the sick and the
profoundly invisible? What could we all learn by paying attention to
those voices?

Production Team:

Jennifer Brea – Director/Producer
Kiran Chitanvis- Creative Producer/DP

About the Production:

“Jennifer was a Harvard PhD student. Months before her wedding, she
became progressively more ill, losing the ability even to sit in a
wheelchair. Doctors insisted that her condition was psychosomatic rather
than real. She had become a part of a hidden world of millions
suffering from an illness for which there is evidence dating back to at
least the 1930s. The disease, myalgic encephalomyelitis, is a very real
disease with profound metabolic, neurological, and immunological
dysfunction. It was re-branded in the 1980s by the CDC as ‘Chronic
Fatigue Syndrome’. We are fighting to show M.E. by its true face.” — Kiran Chitanvis

Current Status:

In production.

For more information and to support this project:

Kickstarter Page
Film Website

you have an in-the-works project and you’d like to be profiled in an
upcoming iW Project of the Day column, submit yourself by filling out this form!

This Article is related to: Filmmaker Toolkit and tagged


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– Dr. Lorraine Day was on Joyce Riley's military show THE POWER HOUR (9/12): "…HIV-Negative AIDS cases falsely reported and treated as CFS cases may be one of the biggest cover-ups we have seen."

– In 1992 "…Newsweek made an even more shocking announcement: …CFS patients who had the same immune system deficiencies as the NON-HIV AIDS cases…"

– Dr. Judy Mikovits stated on In Short Order (11/12) about CFS & Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME): "…consider this as NON HIV AIDS."

– Neenyah Ostrom's book "America's Biggest Cover-up: 50 More Things…CFS & Its Link To AIDS" cites: "Some CFS Patients May Be Non-HIV AIDS Cases."

Will GWS, CFS or AIDS ever make any progress unless we acknowledge these horrific facts?

My case goes up through the NIH, CDC, White House, WHO, to the UN. I testified federally in Washington-DC, and am published 20 times on 4 continents.

Please make the madness –> STOP!

Elaine Boel

This project seems to be generating great optimism within the ME/CFS community and I can only hope that the momentum continues. I, for one, am rooting as best as I can from my bed for these two lovely filmmakers.

Justin Reilly

This is going to be an awesome movie!!
Btw, "most prevalent disease" is not a synonym for "rare disease"!


Please make this film ASAP! I have been ill for 27 yrs and there are no approved medicines!!

Debra nice

Canary in a coal mine film . Needs to be seen to believe "! Please show this film "! Thank you "!..

Monika Parekh

Voting for CANARY in a COAL MINE!

Els VH

I would really like to see how this movie/ documentary turns out.

Not only because we'll finally get a glimps and an idea of how a so missunderstood, devastating and surreal disease can stop anybody's life from one day to the next,
but also to make ALL of us think about the core of the issue:

how and why can an illness widely spread around the world be so marginalized and get less
research funding than male boldness?!

À lot of people know the answer but it would be a first to get others to pauze for a moment and ask themselves the Same questions too. And then be as disgusted as people with ME have been for decades now.



Maureen Goggins

I very much look forward to this film. The Canary in a Coal Mine crew are very inventive in their approach and are reaching out world-wide to tell this important story.

Toni Logan

YES, I vote for Canary in a Coal Mine to win Project of the Week.

Heidi Hayward

This is not a "rare" disease. In the US alone, we are 1 million strong, yet we are invisible to the world. I am 34. I got sick at 25, and I have been homebound for 9 years without proper medical treatment. This disease usually does not kill you, but it causes you to lose your life. Please Indiewire, help our story be heard.


I have ME. I can no longer teach and have lost my job. I can no longer walk further than a few metres at a time. Yet modern medicine can offer no treatments.

Psychiatrists claim we are de-conditioned and have false illness beliefs – they deny we are ill. However there is a growing body of evidence showing real abnormalities in how ME patients respond to exertion. Old misconceptions about ME are being turned on their heads.

This film (and the huge support following it has gained) clearly demonstrates how things are now changing. At last the world will hear about the devastation caused by ME to previously active individuals.

I am really looking forward to seeing this film completed. The trailer alone has already achieved so much. :) Thank you to the Canary team. :)

Merry Speece

I hope to see this film. The wider world needs to see this film.

Contrary to what the headline says ME/CFS is not a rare disease.

julie horowitz

YES! This is a movie I would very much like to see and a movie which needs to be seen by the population at large!!!

Emily Craven

Yes! I'm really interested to see where this story goes.

Nora Dreske

This is a movie I would really like to see.

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