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Young Doug and Mom on the beach. • Full Size •

Young Doug and Dad at the house on Birch Street. • Full Size •

Young Mike and Mina. • Full Size •

Mike and Mina at a 60s banquet. • Full Size •

The Block family. • Full Size •

Mike and Doug Block. • Full Size •

51 Birch Street

Do we ever really know our parents? And if we were suddenly given the chance to know all about them, would we take it? These are the primal human questions at the heart of the riveting personal documentary, 51 Birch Street.

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

When Mike and Kitty marry and sell the long-time family home, Doug returns to suburban Long Island for one last visit and discovers three boxes filled with his mother's diaries going back 35 years. Realizing that he has only a few short weeks before his dad will be gone, he grabs his camera, determined to investigate the mystery of his parents' marriage.

Through increasingly candid conversations with family members and stunning diary revelations, he comes to terms with two parents who are far more complex and troubled than he ever imagined. 

Both funny and heartbreaking, 51 Birch Street is the first person account of filmmaker Block's unpredictable journey through a whirlwind of dramatic life-changing events: the death of his mother, the uncovering of decades of family secrets, and the ensuing reconciliation with his 83-year-old father. What begins as Doug's own intimate, autobiographical story, soon evolves into a broader meditation on the universal themes of love, marriage, fidelity and the mystery of family. 

51 Birch Street spans 60 years and 3 generations, and weaves together hundreds of faded snapshots, 8mm home movies and two decades of verité footage. The result is a timeless tale of what can happen when our most fundamental assumptions about family are suddenly called into question.