Hot Doc: I Am Big Bird – The Caroll Spinney Story

Directed by Dave LaMattina & Chad Walker Opens in Toronto on Friday, May 29, 2015 at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

i am big birds

I AM BIG BIRD THE CAROLL SPINNEY STORY  is a heartwarming doc that chronicles the life of Caroll Spinney, the man who has been Sesame Street’s Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since 1969.

For over 4 decades, Caroll’s characters have been cherished by generations of children.  At 81 years old, the tenacious and enthusiastic performer has no intention of slowing down. I AM BIG BIRD features incredible footage of Spinney’s earliest collaborations with Jim Henson as it traces Caroll’s journey from bullied child to celebrated performer. This loving portrait peels away the instances that inspired his creation of Big Bird and as the yellow feathers give way to grey hair, it is the man, not the puppet, who will steal your heart

The last of the original Sesame Street puppeteers, Caroll Spinney has dined with heads of state, won Emmys and been named a living legend by the Library of Congress.  He’s handpicked a successor who has waited, quite literally, in the wings, as his understudy for almost 20 years.  But while Caroll’s peers have long since slipped into cozy retirements or pursued other dreams, he has held on with no intention of retiring.

Pure love runs through Caroll’s life:  he found it first in his mother, a woman who not only handcrafted his first puppets, but who also protected Caroll from a savage beating from his father.  When Caroll’s first marriage to a woman “embarrassed” by his career ended in divorce, Caroll would find Debra, the love of his life.  And, then there was Jim Henson, who grew from boss to friend and whose death shattered Caroll.  The unconditional love that envelops Caroll’s life – and which is captured in the hours of home video culled for I AM BIG BIRD – is the true secret to Big Bird’s popularity.

Yielding the Bird would mean saying goodbye to characters that are a true expression of his soul, characters that he loves and cherishes like his own children.

Caroll can’t say goodbye to Big Bird because he is Big Bird.

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