Detroit filmmaker gets Ford Foundation grant for Hastings Street documentary

Juanita Anderson’s ‘Hastings Street Blues’ tells a Black Bottom record shop owner’s story of displacement, racial turmoil, and urban renewal

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click to enlarge Juanita Anderson is directing and co-producing Hasting Street Blues. - Wayne State University
Wayne State University
Juanita Anderson is directing and co-producing Hasting Street Blues.

The Ford Foundation’s JustFilms grant has awarded more than $4 million to filmmakers working on social justice documentary projects.

One of those projects is Hastings Street Blues, helmed by Detroit producer and Wayne State University professor Juanita Anderson and Marsha Music.

Hastings Street Blues centers around Joe’s Record Shop in the city’s former Black Bottom neighborhood.

In the film, shop owner Joe Von Battle’s self-determination is intertwined with themes of displacement, migration, racial turmoil, civil rights, and urban “renewal” — things Detroit knows all too well.

“I’m truly honored to be among the independent filmmakers whose work in social justice documentary is being recognized and supported by the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms initiative,” Anderson said in a media release.

She added, “The story that we are committed to bringing to film is not only a significant part of this nation’s history, but also a story that impacts our present and future.”

Anderson is the head of media arts and studies at Wayne State. She’s probably best known for her work as executive producer of Who Killed Vincent Chin?, which recounts the horrific murder of Chinese American Vincent Chin in Detroit in 1982.

Hastings Steet Blues was also previously awarded seed funding from the Knight Foundation, but production was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

JustFilms is part of the Ford Foundation’s Creativity and Free Expression program and has named 68 documentary film projects to support this year.

Of the 68 projects included in this cohort of grant recipients, 70% were filmmakers identifying as Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC) from the United States, Brazil, Mexico, and beyond.

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About The Author

Randiah Camille Green

After living in Japan and traveling across Asia, Randiah Camille Green realized Detroit will always be home. And when she says Detroit, she's talking about the hood, not the suburbs. She has bylines in Planet Detroit News , Bridge Detroit , BLAC magazine, and Model D . Her favorite pastimes are meditating...
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