Screened as part of NZIFF 2006

51 Birch Street 2005

Directed by Doug Block

As widower father moves out of the family house, filmmaker son unpacks the secrets of his parents’ 55-year marriage. One of the year’s most involving and moving investigative documentaries.

USA In English
88 minutes Colour and B&W / DigiBeta

Director, Photography


Doug Block
Amy Seplin


Amy Seplin


Otto Gain


H. Scott Salinas
Machine Head


Mike Block
Mina Block
Carol ‘Kitty’ Block
Ellen Block


Toronto, Amsterdam Documentary 2005; SXSW 2006


Doug Block’s portrait of his parents’ 55-year marriage proves one of the year’s most involving investigative documentaries. Closer to his mother than to his father, Block has long been documenting family life on film. When, only months after the sudden death of his mother, his 80-something father moved in with Kitty, a former secretary, Block suddenly realised how very little he actually knew about his parents’ life together. As Block senior prepares to move out of the family house, filmmaker son lays siege with his camera, unpacking family secrets along with decades’ worth of accumulated stuff… including, crucially, three boxes of his mother’s intensely confessional journals.

“A tonal triumph of true-life storytelling… Block has tapped into the universal feelings of many aging boomers who feel their seemingly secure childhoods masked deeper mysteries within their parents’ relationships.” — Eddie Cockrell, Variety.
“I’ve often felt that the personal documentary has overstayed its welcome, but Birch Street reaffirms my faith in the form.” — Anthony Kaufman, indieWIRE