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Get to Know Your Parents

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See the Film

51 Birch Street

NOW ON DVD

Read the Reviews

"Exceptional ... This film should become a huge hit because its central question is universal; if you could learn everything about your parents' lives, would you really want to know? ... This is wonderful non-fiction storytelling."

– Tom Hall, INDIEWIRE

Share Your Story

51 Birch Street and the story of the Block family has had a powerful impact on audiences all over the world.  Now we invite you to share your personal reaction to the film, and how it hit home for you regarding your own family.

Catherine Dishman (age 26)

I come from a broken family.  My parents were married at a young age(17 and 20), and my dad had to truck full time in order to support them.  They had their first child 4 months after being married.  Their 2nd and 3rd followed 4 years after the first.  The last child (me) was had 9 years after the first.  My mom couldn’t handle the stress of raising 4 kids and looking after a home.  My dad was gone most of the time, and when he was home all they would do is fight.  The were divorced when I was…

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carol1950 (age 58)

I finally watched 51 Birch Street last night.  I had been waiting for the DVD since I missed it in the theater.  I knew I was going to love the film because I’m a psychotherapist and I knew it was going to be interesting from a psychological perspective.  I’ve enjoyed just about every documentary I’ve seen about families (Capturing the Friedmans and Tarnation come to mind) but this one I could actually relate to on a very personal level. 

I come from a Jewish family about the same vintage as the Blocks (my parents married in ‘42--my brother…

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Boomer (age 51)

I wrote to your website several months ago, with my story.  At that time, I had only read about your family’s history.  Last week, I finally had the chance to watch your DVD, and am amazed at the similarities...even more than I realized when I wrote earlier.
Doug, I hope that you and your family don’t have regrets about publicizing your story.  It has helped me to know that, as sad as parts of it may be, there were several of us going through things like this.  And from your website, there are more of us than we…

[Read more of Boomer's story]

Kim Przytulski (age 35)

My mom and dad were divorced when I was 2.  My dad would come around every so often for dinner and to take my sister and me shopping.  It always seemed very sudden when he was in town.  I can’t remember ever knowing he was going to be in town until that day.  These quick trips, usually no more than a day, left me feeling that my dad never wanted a part in my life.  When I was a junior in college, we lost touch completely.  I held a lot of resentment in my heart for him.

I…

[Read more of Kim Przytulski's story]

Violetta dei’Contorni (age 52)

I just finished watching your film and I was captivated. I was moved many times, and it brought up many feelings. I have always been a huge fan of Ross McElwee and Michael Apted’s Up series--I could watch that forever, and I felt that way with this film as well. When I was about 15, my mother sat me down and told me that when she was an infant, in 1920, her mother, presumably in self-defense, shot and killed her father. She also told me that I had an uncle I never knew about because he was in an insane…

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Robert Guinaugh (age 54)

For the last couple years since Doug’s film was released, I have been contemplating whether I should write a screenplay about my parents and the life I lived at 12 Overlook Drive in Port Washington.  I was a classmate of Doug’s at Schreiber High School and graduated in the same class. But for a few close friends and my immediate family, no one knew of the sheer hell that my sisters, brother and I lived through with an alcoholic mother.  In the 60’s and early 70’s, alcoholism was not something that anyone of prominence would ever admit to.  Drunks were…

[Read more of Robert Guinaugh's story]

Nini Lee (age 44)

I just finished watching the movie.  So profound and thought provoking.  The film was so personal to Doug and his family, but so appropriate for us all to experience through him.
I am a journal keeper myself.  One of the first questions I wanted to ask Doug is if he was glad he read the journals or does he wish he would have left them alone?  I think the answer would be that he is satisfied that he read them and has found the balance of love and forgiveness and empathy for his Mother.  If you read this…

[Read more of Nini Lee's story]

rob de jongh (age 42)

Dear people,

It’s after midnight, April 5th, Amsterdam. I just saw your film on the
Belgian TV and I realized these days I can contact the maker by internet. So
that’s what I’m doing now before I go to bed.
I’d like to express my gratitude for the film and I believe it is of great
value for those who are willing to change the way they see their parents,
whether they’re alive or dead.
Me myself I lost my mother 11 years ago, didn’t have…

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Lea Register (age 60)

Even though I’ve never seen the film, I have read many of the stories on this site.
I suppose the one thing that stands out about my parents and when I became the ‘parent’ is when my father died.  He was only 52 when he died.  He and my mother had been married for twenty nine years; I was twenty seven at the time.  As an only child, all responsibilities feel on me.  At first I just didn’t understand and only ‘reacted’ to actions that took place: my mother had a nervous breakdown and tried to commit suicide,…

[Read more of Lea Register's story]

Nikki (age 19)

Hi there!  I seem to have stepped into this site a little late, however I just saw that this movie was coming to Boise this Friday, so I’m not even sure if anyone will see this since it’s so late =P

Anyway my story is not quite the same as most and it’s not exactly finished as you all see i’m only 19.  It appears that most who have shared their stories are much older and have their own families.  Like I said mine is not over whatsoever but so far seems to be quite a trip.

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