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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

"51 Birch Street is a beautiful, resonant piece of work about how little we know about our parents' lives, about marriage and fidelity, loss and reconciliation. I've often felt that the personal documentary has overstayed its welcome, but Birch Street reaffirms my faith in the form."

– Anthony Kaufman, 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.

David Too (age 56)

I had waited an adult lifetime to resolve “issues” with my dad. One of my great fears was him passing on before we had the time to talk. I was thousands of miles away when I received the call that he was dying. I rushed back home and spent his last night on earth sitting at his bedside holding his hand. We didn’t talk. We had no need to. What was obvious to both of us in those moments was that he had always loved me and me him. Never a moment of my life was that in doubt. There…

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Bill Cammack (age 38)

The breakthroughs I’ve had with my parents have really been the results from my experiencing other people’s relationships with their children or parents, then being able to view my parents in a new light by comparison.

Growing up, it’s tough to tell what’s going on relative to anyone else’s life, because you only have one set of parents.  It’s not like you get to change parents every few years and compare. :D By getting to know other people and their parents, or even by seeing people relating to their children in the streets or in stores, I began…

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Jan Hayward (age 50)

This is a very short version of a long story...perhaps someday I’ll put it in book form.

I only truly understood my mom, Evelyn, and felt a deep empathy with her after she was gone. She died in August, 2000. Before this, she was in a nursing home for ten years having suffered a stroke, and was more like a dependent child than my mother. Since then I have ached with the desire to talk with her, comfort her, and be her female friend the way we were never able to be while she lived.

She…

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Sara

My relationship with my parents is always changing.  More towards the better since I don’t live with them anymore!  I am not sure if I had a single moment where things changed between us and stayed that way, I feel like I am constantly looking at them with new perspectives as I mature and grow.  There was a moment though when I really felt what a strange and powerful sensation in must be to have a child and to love them so deeply.  My grandfather turned 80 a few years ago.  He has six kids, and 10 of us grandkids. …

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Agnes Varnum (age 30)

Inspired by Doug Block and his journey in 51 Birch Street, I was trying to think back on when I realized that my mother was not some mythical creature but an individual with experiences, thoughts, failures, pain. It was difficult because I can’t remember ever having my mother on a pedestal, and the reason is the story of a childhood that you rarely hear about anymore.

My mother was 19 when she had me. I’m told that I was a wanted pregnancy and I know that my mother and father moved to Maine to pursue a bohemian life…

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Philip Armand (age 29)

Not too long ago my mother confided in me that she is afraid of being alone, the reason for her 11 year relationship to a man she isn’t very fond of.  Her feelings towards her boyfriend were not the revealing part of the conversation, her way of being around him had already betrayed her, it was the fact that my mother was allowing herself to be open and vulnerable in the conversation.  I made up my mind at a young age that my mother could do anything and was afraid of nothing, as far as I was concerned the woman…

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Karen Block Engwall (age 55)

As Doug’s sister I’ve watched with awe and envy as he flits from festival to festival with 51 Birch Street.  Who would have believed that the story of a middle-class, suburban, 50’s family would touch so many people?  I’ve shown the film to some of my friends and colleagues, most of whom are therapists or psychologists of one kind or another.  Their responses have astounded me; they are so moved by the story, and so drawn in by the events described.  One friend whose opinion I greatly value told me that she envied me my parents because they were so…

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