51 Birch Street

51birch003Documentary filmmaker Doug Block believed that his parents had always enjoyed their marriage, which lasted 54 years. When his mom suddenly died he began to ask questions. He read her journals and discovered things that led him to doubt a lot he had assumed and even led him into counseling.

Only three months after his mom’s death his father went to Florida and remarried. The woman he married had been his secretary some thirty-five years before. Doug grew even more suspicious. He read and asked a lot of questions and interviewed his two sisters again and again, as well as one of his mom’s best friends. What he discovered was shocking, something that he never expected. What results from his journey is a riveting personal, human documentary that reveals the pain of life, the expectations of an earlier era, and the loss that children suffer when their parents are emotionally withdrawn from them in their childhood.

This brilliant independent film is very moving. If you do not watch it to judge the moral values of this family, but rather to enter into their real life family experience, it will likely move you quite profoundly. On the DVD there is an interview with all the family members following the public release of the film. None of them knew exactly what Doug was going to do while he was filming and thus there was a good deal of shock when they first saw it. In the end they all felt the result was right and helpful. I agree with the Block family. I am glad Doug told their story for all of us, as painful as it was watching it.

A great deal of information about this film is available on the Web site created for it.

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