About the Film

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51 Birch Street


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"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."

– John Anderson, NEWSDAY

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Production Crew

Doug Block • Director, Producer, Writer, Camera

Doug Block is a multiple award-winning, New York-based documentary director, cameraman and producer. His first film, THE HECK WITH HOLLYWOOD! (1991), wryly chronicled the trials and tribulations of three first-time independent filmmakers. It screened at over two dozen leading international film festivals before being released theatrically in the U.S. by Original Cinema.  HECK was broadcast throughout the world, including PBS and Bravo in the U.S.

Block’s second feature was the Emmy-nominated film HOME PAGE (1999), a look at the early days of online culture as personified by college student Justin Hall, now acknowleged as the web’s first blogger.  Called “Groundbreaking” by Roger Ebert, the film screened at the Sundance, Rotterdam, SXSW, Thessaloniki and Full Frame festivals, among others, and was broadcast on HBO, IFC and throughout Europe after a limited theatrical release.

His most recent film, 51 BIRCH STREET (2006), was named one of the top ten films of 2006 by the New York Times and Ebert & Roeper, and one of the outstanding documentaries of the year by the National Board of Review.  It has shown in festivals and on television all over the world, will be broadcast in the U.S. on Cinemax beginning May 8. and have its dvd release in mid-July.

In addition to his directing and camerawork, Block has helped produce some of the most acclaimed documentaries of the past two decades.  He co-produced SILVERLAKE LIFE (1993, dir. Peter Friedman), which was distributed by Zeitgeist Films in over 80 U.S. cities and won numerous awards, including the Peabody Award, Sundance Grand Jury Prize and Freedom of Expression award, the Berlin Golden Teddy, the L.A. Film Critics Association award for Best Independent Film, the Prix Italia and the International Documentary Association’s Distinguished Achievement Award.  He also co-produced JUPITER’S WIFE (1995, dir. Michel Negroponte), an Emmy and Sundance award winning documentary feature about a homeless woman with a mysterious past.  It was released theatrically in over 40 U.S. cities and broadcast on HBO/Cinemax, PBS, and internationally.

Block was consulting producer and cameraman on LOVE AND DIANE (2002, dir. Jennifer Dworkin) a co-production of ITVS, BBC and Arte, which won the prestigious Independent Spirit Award, and co-produced PATERNAL INSTINCT (2004, dir. Murray Nossel), a co-production of HBO and BBC, about a gay couple’s relationship with the surrogate mother of their child.  He is currently producing Esther Robinson’s personal documentary, A WALK INTO THE SEA: DANNY WILLIAMS AND THE WARHOL FACTORY, about her uncle, a promising young filmmaker who was Andy Warhol’s lover at the time of his mysterious disappearance in 1966.  The film won top documentary prizes at the 2007 Berlin and Tribeca Film Festivals and is set for a fall 2007 theatrical release via Arthouse Films.

Block is the founder and co-host of The D-Word, a worldwide online community of documentary professionals. Started in 1999, The D-Word has grown to over 2,000 members from 79 countries.

And, for those who’ve seen 51 Birch Street… Yes, he still does wedding videos.

Lori Cheatle • Producer

Lori Cheatle is a filmmaker/producer working in both documentary and fiction feature films.  Before 51 BIRCH STREET, she most recently produced and co-directed the documentary THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND (co-director Daisy Wright) that premiered at SxSW and has since screened across the U.S., and in Africa, Sweden, Germany, the UK and South Korea. The film was one of two feature documentaries recently selected for the 2006 Whitney Biennial, considered one of the most important surveys of contemporary art in America.

Lori co-produced DASHIELL HAMMETT. DETECTIVE. WRITER. (dir. Joshua Waletzky) for the PBS series American Masters, which premiered on PBS, aired in France on Gaumont TV, and is distributed by Winstar Video. For Pacific Street Films, she produced and co-directed (with Martin Taub) the documentary FROM SWASTIKA TO JIM CROW. Called by The Boston Herald, “…an inspiring portrait of race relations in America”, FROM SWASTIKA TO JIM CROW premiered nationally on PBS. The film was shown worldwide in festivals and as part of an extensive outreach program, at over 100 locations including The National Civil Rights Museum, Lincoln Center, The Museum of African American Heritage and The Museum of Modern Art.

Lori previously worked with Doug Block as one of the Supervising Producers of the web-based THE D-WORD: ESSAYS IN DOCUMENTARY, a compilation of short films on the art of documentary filmmaking.  She produced the feature-length, documentary SUMMER IN IVYE (dir. D. Wright and T. Rogoff), which is distributed worldwide by The Cinema Guild, and American Corner, a film about Vietnam-era veterans. The fiction and documentaries she has produced and associate produced have aired on Showtime, PBS, The Sundance Channel, Lifetime and Canal+. Previously, she was Director of the New York based company Petrified Films.

Lori is currently producing several projects, including LIVE AT THE FILLMORE EAST with Amy Hobby, a film about rock impresario Bill Graham and his impact on the music business, set against the backdrop of Graham’s legendary New York City music hall. The film is directed by Academy-award winner Leon Gast (WHEN WE WERE KINGS) and renowned photographer Amalie R. Rothschild.

John and Ed Priddy • Executive Producers

John and Ed Priddy, Co-Founders of Priddy Brothers, develop, produce and distribute independent films that explore with respect, grace and artistry the depth and breadth of the human experience.  The company champions high-quality film projects created by self-energized, entrepreneurial filmmakers passionate about their art and its message.

Staunch supporters of young filmmakers, the Priddys were instrumental in launching the Windrider Forum which takes place each year during the Sundance Film Festival.  The Forum includes lively, creative workshops, and discussions which allow both cutting-edge graduate and undergraduate film students to interact with the year’s top film projects.  John and Ed are long-time sponsors of the Angelus Student Film Awards and creators of the Triumph Award.  The Priddys are executive producers of the award-winning documentaries 39 POUNDS OF LOVE and TO DIE IN JERUSALEM.  Upcoming projects include Craig Detweiler’s and John Marks’ new film PURPLE STATE OF MIND, Michael Hoffman’s OUT OF THE BLUE and Hilla Medalia’s AFTER THE STORM.

Amy Seplin • Editor, Co-Writer

Amy Seplin has worked in post-production as an editor and post-production supervisor. She has edited a variety of documentaries, specials and narrative features, including IN SEARCH OF AL QAEDA, for the PBS series Frontline and WITNESS TO AN EXECUTION, a one-hour documentary on capital punishment, which was broadcast on MSNBC. Amy was an editor of the ABC series Hopkins 24/7, which received the Dupont Award.

Other editing credits include IT’S RIGHT NOW ‘00, produced by Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen for the Sundance Channel; COLONIAL HOUSE for PBS and Channel 4; and as an additional editor on CINDERELLA SEASON, directed by Jon Alpert for HBO.  Amy has worked as an assistant editor on both fiction and documentary features, including SWIMSUIT USA: AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL, directed by Susan Froemke and Albert Maysles; THE LIFE AND TIMES OF LBJ, directed by David Grubin, and the feature TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE. Amy’s short film CREATURES OF INSTINCT screened at several film festivals including Sundance, Edinburgh and Melbourne and was featured in Interview Magazine. She is a graduate of the Columbia University Film Division.

H. Scott Salinas • Composer

Playing guitar since the age of twelve, H. Scott Salinas began his music career on the small island of St. Croix, where he became known as an accomplished sideman, touring the island in reggae and blues bands. After graduating from Princeton University and Berklee College of Music, Scott became the youngest person ever to be named Grand Prize Winner in the Turner Classic Movies Young Film Composers Competition. For this, Scott was commissioned to score the 1928 Lon Chaney film LAUGH, CLOWN, LAUGH, which aired on Turner Classic Movies to wide critical acclaim.

He has worked at Verité Music with film composer Sheldon Mirowitz, writing and orchestrating music for television films, documentaries, and commercials. In 2004, Scott joined Machine Head, where his most recent work includes EDISON, an action thriller starring Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman, LL Cool J, and Justin Timberlake; CONVENTIONEERS, a love story and political satire taking place at none other than the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York.