“The Kids Grow Up” on HBO 2 this Sunday, 5:15 pm
On Sunday, June 19, Father’s Day, filmmaker, and Stuyvesant Town resident, Doug Block’s documentary, “The Kids Grow Up,” will have its television premiere on HBO 2 at 5:15 pm. For families together, celebrating their fathers, it will be a time to stop, watch and listen.
In talking about Sunday’s HBO showing of “The Kids Grow Up,” Doug said of the film, “Between film festivals and its theatrical release, it’s been out for almost a year-and-a-half. So, the idea that this coming Sunday it will be seen by 99.9 % of the people that will ultimately see it, at least in this country, is significant.” Doug continued, “There is something particularly special about the HBO broadcast because it is on Father’s Day, which adds a whole other dimension to the way the film is seen and the way we are trying to frame it for people to see.”
“The Kids Grow Up” is a beautifully made, compelling portrait of Doug’s daughter, Lucy. The film is about her last year of high school and primarily concerns how Lucy’s “leaving the nest” for college on the West Coast affected Doug and his wife Marjorie. “You can get all sorts of help when it comes to raising a child,” Doug says in the film’s opening narration, “But nothing prepares you for letting her go.”
Doug’s quest to understand and accept Lucy’s imminent departure takes him to parents of Lucy’s classmates, his two sisters, brother-in-law, step-son (and new father) Josh, and Doug’s own father, Mike. Doug asks them to explain their feelings about kids growing up and leaving home. “It was Hell,” Mike tells Doug, revealing for the very first time how he felt when Doug and his two sisters left home. Doug hears a variety of answers and experiences. He also observes the greater level of involvement that his, and Josh’s, generation of fathers has in their kids’ lives, in contrast to that of Doug’s parents’ post WWII generation. In the film, Josh plans to take a one year paternity leave from his job in order to be with his baby son.
“I really want people to see the film in the context of this whole changing notion of fatherhood that’s evolved over the past couple of generations and exemplified in the film by my father and me and Josh. I think we’re just getting to the point where it is much more normal for dads to be at home with their kids and more involved with their kids. Hopefully this is pushing that social trend toward engaged fatherhood a little bit.”
The theme of how parents and children relate to each other echoes Doug’s previous film “51 Birch Street” (2005). “51 Birch Street,” was a documentary that looked beneath the surface of Doug’s parents’ seemingly happy marriage. The film also dealt with Doug’s adult relationship with his emotionally undemonstrative father. What Doug has been able to do so brilliantly, with both “51 Birch Street” and “The Kids Grow Up,” is take personal subject matter and present it in a manner that is dramatic and universal. In the former he is the child looking at his parents. In the latter he is the parent looking at the child. “I felt like I was onto something really interesting about families and about the whole transition period as a parent whose kid is going off, which is so little talked about, written about and probably never filmed.”
“If people come away from my film with a new understanding or appreciation of their parents, or parents for their kids, that’s doing a lot,” Doug explained. He recalled that audience members have left screenings of “The Kids Grow Up” saying, “ ‘I want to call my kids. I want to call my parents, or I want to get a video camera and start taping them.’ They want to hold onto the time. I do think people come away from the film with an appreciation for how quickly time goes by, particularly when you have kids, that they’re like little peanuts one day and then you blink and they’re off to college.”