51 BIRCH STREET

51 BIRCH STREET

Dragoman Signature

USA, 2005 | 88 mins

Directors
Doug Block

Producers
Doug Block, Lori Cheatle

Filmmaker Doug Block had every reason to believe his parent's 54-year marriage was a good one. So he isn't prepared when, just a few months after his mothers' unexpected death, his 83-year old father, Mike, phones to announce that he's moving to Florida to live with "Kitty", his secretary from 40 years before. Always close to his mother and equally distant from his father, he's stunned and suspicious.

When Mike and Kitty marry and sell the longtime family home, Doug returns to suburban Long Island with camera in hand for one last visit. And there, among the lifetime of memories being packed away forever, he discovers 3 large boxes filled with his moms' daily diaries going back well over 35 years. Realizing he has only a few short weeks before the movers come and his dad will be gone for good, the veteran documentarian sticks around, determined to investigate the mystery of his parents' marriage. Through increasingly candid conversations with family members and friends, and constantly surprising diary revelations, Doug finally comes to peace with two parents who are far more complex and troubled than he ever imagined.

51 Birch Street is a riveting personal documentary that explores a universal human question - how much about your parents do you really want to know?

A.O. Scott, NEW YORK TIMES
"One of the most moving and fascinating documentaries I've seen this year... Mr. Block has put his parents’ life, and his own, into this film with such warmth and candor that it may take more than one viewing to recognize it as a work of art."

Ruthe Stein, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

"Block's hypnotic documentary, among the finest of the year, is a resounding success because it touches on things every child has wondered about on the road to adulthood. What really went on in your parents' bedroom? Did Mom or Dad ever mess around?"

 
John Anderson, NEWSDAY
"Doug Block's very moving, honest and even suspenseful autopsy of his parents' marriage is the kind of film audiences leave the theater talking about, and which keeps them talking days later." 
 

Sam Adams, LOS ANGELES TIMES
"What makes "51 Birch Street" a moving revelation rather than a therapeutic exercise is Block's commitment to understanding his parents, Mike and Mina, on their own terms, regardless of what it does to his image of them."

Lisa Scharzbaum, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
"A warm and honest portrait of a marriage at its most mysterious, and ordinary."

Ella Taylor, LA WEEKLY
"Wonderful... a loving, painful map of the gulf between thought and word, between word and deed, that props up good marriages, and sends bad ones to hell."

Festivals:

Toronto International Film Festival - Sept, 2005 (World Premiere)
International Documentary Film Festival, Amsterdam (IDFA) - Nov, 2005 (Joris Ivens Competition)
Floating Film Festival - Feb, 2006
Miami International Film Festival - March, 2006 (U.S. Premiere)
South By Southwest Film Festival (Austin, TX) - March, 2006
Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival (Greece) - March, 2006
Festival de Cinema des 3 Ameriques (Quebec) - March, 2006
Al Jazeera International TV Festival (Qatar) - March, 2006
Philadelphia International Film Festival - March, 2006
Sarasota Film Festival - April, 2006
Nashville Film Festival - April, 2006
True/False West Documentary Film Festival (Bellingham,WA)- Apr, 2006
Full Frame Documentary Film Festival (Durham, NC) - April, 2006
EDOC 5 (Ecuador) - May, 2006
Toronto Jewish Film Festival - May, 2006
Planete Doc Review (Warsaw) - May, 2006
Berkshire International Film Festival - May, 2006
Guth Gafa Film Festival (Donegal, Ireland) - May, 2006
Cracow Film Festival (Poland) - June, 2006
Newport Film Festival - June, 2006
Martha’s Vineyard Summer Film Series - July, 2006
Jerusalem Film Festival- July, 2006
New Zealand Film Festival - July, 2006
Encounters South African Internationall Documentary Festival - July, 2006
San Francisco Jewish Film Festival - July, 2006
BritDoc (Oxford, England) - July, 2006
Edinburgh Film Festival - Aug, 2006
MTR DocFest (Museum of TV & Radio, New York City) - Oct, 2006
Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival - Oct, 2006
Boston Jewish Film Festival - Nov, 2006

Austin Film Society Film Festival
Screening from Beta SP NTSC  Washington Jewish Film Festival
Columbus Jewish Film Festival - March 2007
Virginia Beach Jewish Film Festival - January 2007
MAKOR Steinhardt Center of the 92nd St Y
New Jersey Jewish Film Festival 
Maine Jewish Film Festival
Jewish Community Center of Houston Film Festival - March 2007
Jewish Community Center in Manhattan Film Festival
Vancouver Jewish Film Festival
Jacob Burns Film Center Festival
Hopkins Center Film Festival
Jewish Community Center of Mid-Westchester Film Festival
Flanzer Jewish Community Center Film Festival
Port Jefferson Film Series Festival
Charter Oak Cultural Center Film Festival
Detroit Jewish Film Festival
Katz Jewish Community Center Film Festival
Rockland County Jewish Film Festival - March
Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven
Pioneer Valey Jewish Film Festival - March 2007
 Evanstone Public Library Film Festival - May 2007
Lake County Film Festival - March 2007
Jewish Federation of Eastern CT Film Festival - March 2007
Flanzer Jewish Community Center Film Festival
Pioneer Valey Jewish Film Festival
Temple Emanu-El Film Festival - July 2007
Northeastern Illinois University Film Festival - April 2007
Harrisburgh Jewish Film Festival - April 2007
Avon Theater Film Festival
Union for Reform Judaism Film Festival - May 2007
Strand Theater Film Festival - April 2007
Berkshire Jewish Film Festival
São Paulo Jewish Film Festival
The Hampton Synagogue Film Festival - July 2007
Cincinnati Jewish Film Festival - October 2007
Bnai Torah Congregation Film Festival - September 2007
SUNY Purchase Film Festival - October 2007
Rutgers NJ Jewish Film Festival
The Milton & Betty Katz Jewish Community Center Film Festival - November 2007
Schenectady Jewish Community Center Film Festival - November 2007
Teaneck International Film Festival - November 2007
Penninsula JCC - February 2008
Yeshiva University Museum - March 2008
Union Public Librery Film Festival - June 2008
Bergen International Film Festival
Omaha Jewish Film Festival
Barshop Jewish Community Center Film Festival
Copenhagen Jewish Film Festival
Stockholm Jewish Film Festival - May 2007
White River Indie Film Festival - April 2007
Westchester Reform Temple Film Festival - September 2007

 

Awards:

Best Feature Documentary Prize, Syracuse International Film Festival - 2007