Since she was a baby, Marty has lived with an invisible illness.
Her condition, called acute malignant vasovagal neurocardiogenic syncope, causes periodic fainting because there is not enough blood pumping through her body, which causes her heart to temporarily stop.
It’s a rare disease, and Marty wasn’t diagnosed until she was in her early 30s, Even everyday living was difficult — until Adele, a black Lab and cardiac arrest service dog, changed everything.
On Tuesday, Monadnock Region residents can learn about Marty and Adele’s journey at a screening of “Adele and Everything After” at the Peterborough Community Theatre.
Sponsored by the Monadnock International Film Festival and the Monadnock Humane Society, the event will also include a question-and-answer session with Marty and filmmaker Melissa Dowler. Marty’s husband and her current service dog, Hector, and possibly Adele, will also be in attendance.
Dowler and Marty first met when they lived across the hall from each other in Boston. Marty approached Dowler, who owns a production company called Long Haul Films, about creating a fundraising video to help her with the cost of a new service dog.
“I invited her to come to my studio and tell me more about her story, and when I learned about how remarkable Adele is and how transformational Adele and Marty’s relationship had been in Marty’s life — and that Marty was coming to this point where, after nine years of constant companionship, Adele was preparing to retire, she was preparing to welcome a new service dog — I said, ‘This is a great story, and I would happily help you with the fundraising video,’ ” she said, “ ‘if you’d let me make a documentary about this and follow you around for the next three years.’ ”
Though at first Marty was reluctant about being the subject of a documentary, she decided the film would be a good opportunity to tell her story.
“I thought, well, this is my chance to educate the public on what it’s like to have an invisible disability, to have a service dog, to have struggles and be told there’s nothing they can do for you medically, so you have to search out alternatives,” Marty said.
Filming lasted for about two years, Dowler said, and the film was screened at festivals across the nation in 2017. It won five festival awards, including Best Documentary at the Harrisburg-Hershey Film Festival in Pennsylvania and Best Documentary Feature at the Long Beach Indie International Film Festival in California.
The bond between Marty and Adele is very moving for viewers, Dowler said.
“I think it makes us think about those relationships that we have in our own lives, times when we felt that some other being was really able to see and understand us in a way that empowered us,” Dowler said. “And so I think that while it’s a film that dog lovers really enjoy, and while it’s a film that teaches people a lot about service animals, I also just think it’s a film about this great love story that can resonate with anyone who’s ever been in a meaningful relationship.”
Though Marty has never visited the Monadnock Region before, she said it reminds her of Adele’s beginnings in rural Pennsylvania.
“You know, Adele is — her journey encompasses every lifestyle, and the things that we’ve done together, I think would resonate with the people in Peterborough too,” she said. “Because of Adele, I was able to do things that I wouldn’t have been able to do before, like white water rafting or climbing mountains or going on these great adventures. So she opened up the outdoors to me.”
Both Marty and Dowler encouraged people to come to Tuesday’s screening — and Marty noted that though films about animals can sometimes be difficult for animal-lovers to watch, this one will leave viewers feeling happy when they exit the theater.
“I think that in the times we live in, documentary is a great opportunity to get a window into another world. I do think that in this film, really, Marty opened her heart, truly, and its a real view into another person’s life that is just very intimate and very special,” Dowler said.
”Adele and Everything After” will screen Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Peterborough Community Theatre at 6 School St. Tickets are $5 for MONIFF members and $10 for non-members and can be purchased at the door. The doors open at 5:30 p.m., and attendees are encouraged to arrive early, as seating is limited.
Note: Marty’s last name has been omitted from this article at the request of the filmmaker due to privacy concerns.