Documentary filmmaker Doug Block had every reason to believe his parent’s 54-year marriage was a good one. So he isn’t prepared when, just a few months after his mother's’ unexpected death, his 83-year old father, Mike, phones to announce that he’s moving to Florida to live with “Kitty”, his secretary from 40 years before. Always close to his mother and equally distant from his father, he’s stunned and suspicious. 51 Birch Street is the first-person account of 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 father. What begins as his 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.
A.O. Scott, The New York Times
One of the most moving and fascinating documentaries I've seen this year... Mr. Block has put his parents’ life, and his own, into this film with such warmth and candor that it may take more than one viewing to recognize it as a work of art.