I am Big Bird, big bird docHot Docs

Documentary lovers, get ready! North America's biggest documentary film festival, Hot Docs, is set to gear up for 2014 in Toronto. The 21st Hot Docs runs from April 24 - May 4, and this year's slate presents 197 titles from 43 countries in 12 screening programs.

"We are so proud to be showing these incredible films and combining them with amazing live events and experiences." says Hot Docs director of programming Charlotte Cook. "We truly hope it will be a festival of ideas, discussion and amazement and we're looking forward to bringing the best filmmaking in the world to the world's greatest audience."

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In addition to the opening night international premiere of Brian Knappenberger's "The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz," an inspiring and emotional portrait of a young Internet visionary, other notable films in the Special Presentations program include: Pavel Loparev and Askold Kurov's "Children 404," a firsthand account of LGBT youth in Russia; Anthony Baxter's "A Dangerous Game," an explosive tale of everyday heroes battling against Donald Trump's development plans; Chad Walker and Dave LaMattina's "I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story," a big-hearted tale of the man behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.

Also on tap is Jesse Moss' "The Overnighters," depicting a local pastor risking everything to welcome the desperate men migrating to a small North Dakota community; Cynthia Hill's "Private Violence," a beautifully crafted story exploring the fact that the most dangerous place for a woman is her home; Igal Hecht's "The Sheik," a personal and emotional tale of Olympic wrestler and pop culture icon the Iron Sheik; and Joe Berlinger's "Whitey: United States of America v. James Bulger," which strips away the myths surrounding infamous Boston gangster and FBI informant James "Whitey" Bulger.

And that's just a snapshot of what's on offer at the 2014 Hot Docs Film Festival. For a full schedule and full list of movies, visit the official Hot Docs site.

Additionally, Hot Docs is pleased to present two retrospective programs: Focus On John Zaritsky, a mid-career retrospective of the filmmaker's work; and the Outstanding Achievement Award Retrospective, honouring the influential work of English documentary filmmaker and journalist Adam Curtis.