In his 2006 documentary "51 Birch Street," Doug Block set out to examine his parents' seemingly ordinary 54-year marriage and uncovered both a family mystery and a universal story.
In THE KIDS GROW UP, Block turns the lens on his family once more, this time looking at his only child, Lucy, telling a timeless story of parents and children, growing up and letting go.
Doug Block's daughter Lucy, like many of her generation, has come of age being videotaped by baby-boomer parents, who often capture their close, friendly relationships and bantering on camera. An established documentary filmmaker, Doug had long mulled incorporating the footage into a look at the parenting experience.
When Lucy turns 17 in her final year at home before going to college, he finally turns his camera to the emotionally fraught period when children separate from their parents and parents must separate from their children. As Block grapples with letting go of his daughter, the film becomes not just Lucy's coming-of-age story, but also a moving account of his year of learning to let go.
THE KIDS GROW UP moves seamlessly between past, present and fast-approaching future as Lucy blossoms from precocious kid to serious and self-possessed young woman. Along the way, the eternal father-daughter struggle for control plays out through the camera with warmth, humor and occasional irritation. "Instead of experiencing me going away to college, you're just trying to film it," says Lucy.
His wife, Marjorie, candidly informs Doug that his "buddy-buddy" relationship with Lucy signifies a larger problem. "In most ways," she tells him, "you don't want to grow up."
Meanwhile, Doug's ongoing effort to come to peace with his aging, traditional father, contrasted with his stepson Josh's eagerness to be a stay-at-home dad, illustrates just how much notions of fatherhood have changed over the generations.
"My daughter Lucy has always had a natural camera presence, and I couldn't help but think there was a funny and fascinating documentary to be made about parenting over the long haul from a father's perspective," explains Block. "Yet lurking underneath the footage was a more bittersweet story, about a baby-boomer parent struggling with aging and loss and learning how to let go, and a look at three generations of fathers."
THE KIDS GROW UP has screened at numerous festivals, including Full Frame, Hot Docs, Silverdocs (Special Jury Prize) and Sarasota.
Doug Block is a New York-based director, producer and cameraman whose films have won numerous awards, including a Sundance Grand Jury Prize, Emmy®, Peabody and Independent Spirit Award. Debuting on CINEMAX in 2007, "51 Birch Street" was named one of the Ten Best Films of 2006 by the New York Times and Chicago Sun-Times, and garnered numerous awards, including Best Overall Program at the 2008 Banff Television Awards. Block's other notable films include "Home Page" and "The Heck with Hollywood!" As producer, his credits include "Silverlake Life," the CINEMAX documentary "Jupiter's Wife," "A Walk Into the Sea: Danny Williams and the Warhol Factory," "The Edge of Dreaming" and the recent Sundance award-winner "Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles."
THE KIDS GROW UP is written, directed and photographed by Doug Block; produced by Doug Block and Lori Cheatle; edited and co-written by Maeve O'Boyle; music by H. Scott Salinas.