Little Film That Could Wins in Hollywood – "The Little Red Truck" Wins Best Feature Documentary at the International Family Film Festival

“The Little Red Truck” Playing to Packed Houses,
Gaining Momentum on Festival Circuit

Missoula, Montana — “The Little Red Truck,” a documentary film chronicling the world’s largest touring children’s theater and the youth it impacts, was awarded “Best Feature Documentary” at the International Family Film Festival on Sunday, March 2 in Hollywood, California. The festival was held at the historic Raleigh Studios on the city’s famous Melrose Avenue. Adding to the festivities, the Goodyear blimp, which makes an unexpected (and rather funny) appearance in the movie, flew over the studio post-screening with a special message: “Goodyear Salutes “The Little Red Truck.”

“The Little Red Truck” premiered to a pack house and standing ovation at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula, Montana in late February. Most recently, it played to yet another full house at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival in San Luis Obispo, California. Filmmaker Rob Whitehair and producing partner, Pam Voth, are thrilled with the warm reception the film is receiving.

“We’re absolutely ecstatic with the response the film has been receiving,” says Whitehair. “Audience feedback has been incredibly positive and encouraging. Already, we’re being asked where people can see the film or send their friends and family to see it. We’re optimistic that its theatrical release, later this summer, will be well-received.”

Described by media as “a masterful, emotional tour de force…” and “….like ‘Spellbound’ meets ‘Waiting for Guffman,’” the film records the emotional highs, lows and in-betweens of more than 250 kids in five communities when Missoula Children’s Theatre (MCT), via its signature truck, comes to their towns. Packed with pretty much everything necessary for staging a full-scale musical, the little red truck comes seeking just one thing: 50 to 60 ambitious youth, grades K through 12, to serve as cast members.

While the truck is the film’s focal point, the real story is the children who do the improbable: learn a show’s dialogue, songs, dance moves, and staging in just six days (six days!). It’s magic and mayhem captured through the lens as the kids, under the direction of the two professional tour actor/directors who come with the truck, audition, rehearse, mess up, have the occasional meltdown, overcome personal obstacles, jump for joy, don costumes, and eventually grace the stage for a one-hour performance.

Woven throughout the one-week tour are life lessons in teamwork, trust, self-confidence, the ability to see a project through to the end, and acceptance. Bringing it all to light are the personal stories captured on high-definition video. For example:

• The young girl who experiences such stage fright she considers bowing out just moments before the curtain rises.

• The young boy who asserts that MCT helped him break free of gangs.

• The blind girl who memorizes not only her lines, but those of her cast mates, feeding lines to one lost actor on stage with her.

Whitehair, who made a name for himself capturing wildlife on film for National Geographic, Discovery and PBS productions, says, “This film restored my faith in humanity. It forced me to look at things in a different light and ask myself, ‘At what point do we lose the ability to say anything is possible.’ These kids still believe.”

According to Voth, the decision to turn the company’s cameras on kids, rather than the usual wild animals, was easier than one might expect. “For us to venture beyond wildlife filmmaking, the story had to be extremely compelling and entertaining,” she says. “This project promised that and more. Over the course of six days, you see kids blossom and grow, and you get to witness personal triumphs they’ll carry into adulthood. Add in the amazing tour actor/directors who hold it all together and you have a truly powerful story, no matter what angle you approach it from.”

Whitehair and Voth spent nearly a year shadowing the tour in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, Canada; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Hollywood, California; Americus, Georgia; and Somerton, Arizona. Although these communities are geographically and demographically distinct, they share one common thread: the need for fully accessible performing arts programs.

To learn more about “The Little Red Truck,” Tree & Sky Media Arts, the filmmakers, and view a film trailer, visit



Sunday March 2nd 2008, the International Family Film Festival culminated four days of diverse feature films, shorts films, student shorts, industry panels and workshops, the Screenwriter’s Showcase & Award Ceremony, the Freshi Road Show, receptions, interviews and networking, with the prestigious IFFF Awards Ceremony & Banquet.

At the black tie event, Chris Shoemaker, one of the festival founders and IFFF’s Executive Director, said of the 13th IFFF, "Yesterday afternoon the Goodyear Blimp flew over these Raleigh Studios to congratulate a festival film Winner, "The Little Red Truck." (feature documentary) For me, that was a metaphorical reminder to always look up for family films. This festival will always strive to look up with you all."
IFFF awards ceremony presenter/performers included Ana Berry (host, producer), Dave Basaraba (musician), Magali Guidasci (costume designer), Dooma Wendshcuh (video game creator), Michael Abbott (producer), Jennifer Karr (Singer/Songwriter), Youseff Delera (award winning filmmaker), Stephane Gauger (award winning filmmaker), Colin McGreal (award winning illustrator/commercial director) and fast rising, up and comer, pop duo Savvy & Mandy.

The graceful award sculptures designed by H Studio – Schlomi Haziza and gold embossed certificates were plentiful and given with reverence and love. The 2008 Family Film Festival industry honorees are as follows:

The 2008 IFFF "Friz" Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Art of Animation & Visual Effects Award was given to Mr. Marco Marenghi (Animation Supervisor, Sony Imageworks) with a heartfelt introduction by veteran visual effects artist and colleague, David Wiezer. He shared that, "Marco Marenghi is the kindest, bravest, warmest most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life. Marco is a wonderful friend, and a fantastic Dad to two beautiful kids. He is married to an angel… which helps him immeasurably in our business. He is absolutely revered by his team at Imageworks, where he has supervised the animation on some of the biggest box office hits in recent years. It is accurate to say that he has had a tremendously positive effect on everyone that he touches." IFFF was proud to honor him.

Walden Media (Chronicles of Narnia) is the first production company to receive the prestigious IFFF Film Excellence Award. Accepting on behalf of the company was Mylan Stepanovich (Vice President of Production), who shared this message from Cary Granat, CEO of Walden Media, "I am honored to be receiving this award on behalf of Walden Media. We are thrilled to be recognized by a festival that has paid tribute to so many pioneers in family filmmaking, and (please) thank the directors of the International Family Film Festival for their generous support!"

The IFFF Film Excellence Award recognizes Walden Media’s steadfast commitment to quality Family Films and the production of classic children’s literature for the big screen, proving that film can promote a love of books, and books can promote a love of film. With an underlying mission to promote literacy and education by linking the classroom to the screening room through fantastic movies, Walden Media has created an imagination re-generation in today’s youth! The IFFF is proud to shine a light on their work.

And the 2008 IFFF Awards for Best Picture or Screenplay goes to:


Best Feature Drama "ALL ROADS LEAD HOME" Dennis Fallon, Director/Producer, Waldo West Productions

Best Foreign Feature Drama "STICKS AND STONES" (Canada), George Mihalka, Director, Cirrus Communications and Dream Street Pictures

Best Feature Comedy "ALICE, UPSIDE DOWN" Sandy Tung, Director/Producer, New Dog Inc.

IFFF Best Feature Animation "DONKEY OLLIE SHIPWRECKED" Brian Stewart, Director/Producer/ Animator/Writer, Car Angel-Boat Angel

Best Feature Documentary "THE LITTLE RED TRUCK" Rob Whitehair, Director, Tree & Sky Media Arts


"The Little Red Truck," is a full-length feature documentary film from Missoula-based Tree and Sky Media Arts. In brief; when a little red truck from the Missoula Children’s Theatre pulls into town, sixty local kids take on an impossible task – to stage a full-scale musical in just 6 days. This week will change them forever.

J.K. Simmons and the Blimp at the International Family Film Festival

Goodyear Blimp salutes The Little Red Truck at Hollywood screening!!


the IFFF Directors Gold Award "ALONDRA SMILES", Conchita Nora Villa, Director/Producer/Writer

the IFFF Spirit’ Award "BLIND AMBITION" Bala Rajasekharuni, Director/Producer/Co-Writer, Subcontinent Films, LLC

and the IFFF Top Applause Award went to "A PLUMM SUMMER" Caroline Zelder, Director/Producer, Fairplay Pictures and Home Team.


Best Drama "A SIGHT FOR SORE EYES" Shane Stanley, Director/Producer/Writer, Visual Arts Entertainment, Inc

Best Comedy "ACADEMANIA!" Gina Guerrieri, Director/Producer/Writer

Best Animation "RINDIN, THE PUFFER" Len Simon, Director/Animator/Writer, Fat Cat Animation Studios

Best Foreign Animation "THE MOFFELS – THE ARRIVAL" (Germany) Ute Krause, Co-Director, Sabrina Wanie, Co-Director, Digitrick

Best Documentary "GENERATION XXL" (Canada) Teresa MacInnes, Director/Writer

Best Educational KIDZ HISTORY’S – "Coming to America" Holly DeLuca, Director


Best Drama "PAUL’S OPA" (Germany), Ove Sander, Director/Writer, Academy of Media Arts

Best Comedy "LIE DETECTOR" John Moran, Director/Writer, University of Southern California

Best Documentary "THE SOUNDS OF SILENT CINEMA" Craig Forrest, Co-Director, Jeff Callaway, Co-Director, Chapman University

Best Educational "ADINA’S DECK" Debbie Heimowitz, Co-Director/Co-Writer, Jason Azicri, Co-Director/Co-Writer, Stanford University


Best Drama "True North", Eric W. Carlson

Best Comedy "Be Careful What You Wish For" Carol Sabik-Jaffe

Best Animation "Escape from Biology", Joanne Watson

Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy "The Ardanea Pendant" Jeanne McKinney, Anne Bradshaw.


Best Drama "Unholy Encounter", Anthony Amenta

Best Comedy
"OOH, La La!" Scott and Paula Merrow

Best Animation "The Trophy Ball"
Rahel Kent

Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy "Coming Home" Wilson Macduff (Scotland).

Congratulations to this year’s honorees and award winners on a job well done! The family film genre is definitely lookin’ up!



Platinum – Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Target, Digital Blue/ Prime Entertainment
Gold – Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, CCI Releasing, Walt Disney Pictures, Sony Imageworks, H. Studio,
Silver – Freshi Films LLC, Without A Box, All About Face Make-up Academy, AA Universal Self Storage, Daisy Rock, Girlie Nails, Zune, Santa Clarita Valley Film Office.
Friends of the Festival – Union Bank of California, East West Bank, Sunset Marquis, LA INC Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau, Councilman Thom LaBonge
In Kind Donors – Family Magazine Group, Creative Industry Handbook, Holiday Inn Walk of Fame, Universal Sheraton Hotel, LA With Kids, Got Kids! LA
Film Sponsors – "All Roads Lead Home", "Wreck the Halls", "Donkey Ollie", "Alfalfa Kisses", "American in China", "Short Track", "Step to Hell", "I’d Rather Be Dancing", "Akira’s Hip Hop Shop"



The International Family Film Festival promotes socially responsible films and screenplays, suitable for a general audience, that express a fundamental respect for the positive values of life. The IFFF advocates and encourages the creation and sharing of family film and screenplay product through film exhibition, professional and children’s hands-on film camps, seminars and post-film discussions focused specifically on the family film genre. The IFFF has a target audience of Filmmakers, Producers, Press, Distributors, Critics, Industry, Small Business, Families and Kids.

For information on next year’s festival visit our website at or call (661) 257-3131.


This year IFFF had films from around the world connecting filmmakers and audiences through one heart, one mind, and one world — all united by universal human experiences. Audiences enjoyed a plethora of family films from seventeen diverse countries, which expressed a fundamental respect for humanity and the affirmative values of life that connect us all. The International Family Film Festival 2008 – Make a Film, Make a Friend, World Peace through Filmmaking!


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