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Anna Lee Ackermann

Anna Lee Ackermann is a Chicago-based documentarian who has a passion for stories that mainly focus on social justice issues varying from personal narratives of relationship betrayal, to the complicated multi-layered world of food deserts.

In the spring 2020, Ackermann was able to refine her storytelling skills through an internship at award-winning Kartemquin Films.

As a recent graduate from Columbia College Chicago, Ackermann hopes to use her B.A. in Interdisciplinary Documentary with a dual focus in film and journalism with a minor in Social Media and Digital Strategy to continue to convey authentic human connection through both a visual and written medium in an effort to start conversation on topics that have become white noise.


In the Fall of 2019, I didn’t realize the endeavour I’d be on- delving into the world of food deserts, and how much this documentary would change me. This is one of my first personal documentaries where I’ve had the great honor of working with an incredible team. AS WE ARE PLANTED pushed me outside my comfort zone in the best way as it stretched me beyond my scope of my immediate circle, and I hope viewers see the weight of that.

Through both Just Roots, the non-profit, and the Saint James Catholic Church food pantry, both on the South Side of Chicago, I did my best to approach the topic of food deserts delicately and respectfully, but also ask the important questions that challenged my subjects.

Coming from an upbringing where at one point my family depended on food pantries after my mom lost her job, I recognize the importance of food pantries and the role they play in not only providing a basic need, but also restoring dignity. The work Just Roots and Saint James are doing is essential work and it was an incredible honor to get to know both Sean of Just Roots and Cathy of Saint James in the documentary process.

I hope "As We Are Planted" not only provides a better understanding of food deserts in general, but ultimately a glimmer of hope in what may seem like a bleak circumstance.


As We Are Planted

Areas with no or very little access to affordable, nutritious food, known as food desserts, occur disproportionately often on the city's South and West sides, making daily life, healthy eating and general wellness more difficult to attain for residents. With sensitive and nuanced filmmaking, AS WE ARE PLANTED gets to know exceptional Chicagoans who are working together, and with community organizations like Just Roots and the Saint James Catholic Church, to create the food ecosystem and infrastructure their communities need with locally-run food pantries and urban farms.


AS WE ARE PLANTED features two organizations on the South Side/South Loop of Chicago that come together to help alleviate the issue of food deserts.

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Persistent income inequality, rising unemployment and many other socioeconomic factors create and perpetuate the inequitable distribution of food resources across our city. To learn more about the efforts of the food pantry and farm featured in this documentary, or to join the effort to feed Chicago, check out these local organizations:

Just Roots Chicago,

St. James Food Pantry

Greater Chicago Food Depository

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Learn more about this filmmaker, and check out more of her work at

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