Doug Block had every reason to believe his parent’s 55-year marriage was a good one. So he isn’t prepared when, a few months after his mother’s unexpected death, his father phones to announce that he’s moving to Florida to live with his secretary from 40 years before. Close to his mother and equally distant from his father, he’s stunned. When the long-time family home is sold, Doug realizes that he has only a few short weeks before his father will be gone, and a lifetime of memories will be packed away forever. He grabs his camera and heads to suburban Long Island determined to learn more about his parents’ marriage and confront this stranger who is his father. Through probing conversations and the surprising discovery of 35 years of his mother’s daily diaries, he comes to terms with two parents who are far more complex and troubled than he ever imagined. What begins as Doug’s intimate, autobiographical story evolves into a broader meditation on the universal themes of love, marriage, fidelity and the mystery of family.
51 Birch Street was on several Best of 2006 lists, including The New York Times 10 Best Films of the Year, the Ebert and Roeper Show, the National Board of Review, the Chicago Sun Times, Rolling Stone Magazine and the Boston Society of Film Critics. It was selected as the Best Documentary of the Year by AARP Magazine and received an award for Best Overall program at the Banff World Television Awards. 51 Birch Street premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, and played at dozens of top international festivals before playing for 9 months in theaters across the U.S