Judy Hoffman

Professor of Practice, Department of Cinema and Media Studies
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Classics 314A

Special Interests

Documentary cinema and video; video and film production; ethnographic film and issues of representation and cultural ownership; cinema verite and the participant camera; The Guerilla Television Movement; political film and video; Chicago Film History

OFFICE HOURS: Mon. 2:00pm-3:00pm, Wed. 1:20pm-2:00pm, and by appointment.

Judy Hoffman has worked in film and video for over 25 years. She was active in the Alternative Television Movement of the early 1970's, experimenting in the use of small format video equipment. During the 1973 International Visual Anthropology Conference, she assisted French ethnographer and filmmaker Jean Rouch. She researched a film project for him, and became deeply influenced by cinema verite and the idea of shared anthropology.

Hoffman played a major role in the formation of Kartemquin Films, working on many of their film productions and was the Associate Producer on Golub, which debuted at the New York Film Festival. She is currently on Kartemquin's Board of Directors. The first woman film Camera Assistant in Chicago, Hoffman was an apprentice in IATSE, and worked on feature films, but ultimately chose documentary. Her credits include numerous PBS series, including Daley: The Last Boss, for "American Experience," and Ken Burns' Baseball, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Jazz.

A major focus of her work has been with the Kwakwaka'wakw First Nation of British Columbia, producing films and videotapes about the reclaiming of Native culture. She was the Associate Producer on the award-winning Box of Treasures, a film tracing their efforts to repatriate cultural artifacts. For over ten years Hoffman directed a video training program on the N'amgis Reserve so that the Kwakwaka'wakw could make their own tapes, and she continues to work with them on their projects.

She received a VOICE Media Activism Award from Chicago's Center for Community and Media in 1994, was a Visiting Artist at Middlebury College in 1997, and was the Guest Artist at the Big Muddy Film Festival in 1999. She was awarded the 2004 Nelson Algren Committee Award for community activists making a significant contribution to Chicago life.

As the Acting Director of The Documentary Center of Columbia College in 1996, she along with Ronit Bezalel developed Voices of Cabrini, about the destruction of public housing in Chicago. Hoffman directed a behind the scenes documentary DVD on Britney Spears, called Stages: Three Days in Mexico, that was shot by Albert Maysles. She, in turn, was a cinematographer on Maysles' upcoming videos on the Dalai Lama, and on The Gates, a documentary on Jeanne Claude and Christo's Central Park installation, airing on HBO in 2006. Recent productions also include additional cinematography on Howard Zinn: You Can't be Neutral on a Moving Train, screening on the Sundance Channel; Sacco and Vanzetti, which premiered at the Full Frame Documentary Festival; and cinematographer on Michelle Citron's interactive CDRom Mixed Greens. Hoffman also produced Ishai Sagi, an interview with an Israeli Defense Force Officer who is refusing to fight in occupied territories. Hoffman is currently working on updating Voices of Cabrini to DVD, which will further explore issues of public housing in Chicago.

She received an MFA from Northwestern University, and presently holds an appointment at the University of Chicago, as Lecturer in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies and Department of Visual Arts.

Field Interests:

Documentary cinema and video; video and film production; ethnographic film and issues of representation and cultural ownership; cinema verite and the participant camera; The Guerilla Television Movement; political film and video; Chicago Film History.

Independent Film and Videotape Credits:

  • AMERICAN AUTO (video), the contemporary American Dream as seen through the lives of two used car salesmen trying to eek out a living and life in Detroit. Tiny Elephant Productions. Executive Producer.
  • THE DALAI LAMA IN CENTRAL PARK (video), follows the Dalai Lama in N.Y.C, culminating in his historic speech to New Yorkers about 9/11. Maysles Films. Additional Cinematography.
  • AN AMERICAN NEAR PARIS (film/video). A political adventure of post-colonial politics, travel, and the shift in Algeria from socialism to Islam. Producer/Director/Cinematographer/Editor.
  • 2007 IN MY ROOM (video), The interior life of 3 teenage girls is explored through video interviews in their room, and still photography outside that space. Metta Productions. Cinematographer.
  • 2006 GOLUB: THE LATE WORKS ARE THE CATASTROPHES (film/video) Thirteen years after the completion of Golub, this update documents his late works and relationship to his wife artist Nancy Spero. It also includes a photo gallery of his work. Kartemquin Films. Associate Producer/Additional Cinematography.
  • SACCO AND VANZETTI (video), the historical controversy about two immigrant anarchist workers accused of murder and sentenced to death. Willow Pond Films. Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. Additional Cinematography.
  • LABOR STORIES (film/video), three documentaries on labor struggles; Cook County Hospital Doctors; United Electrical Workers; and Unemployment Compensation Workers, originally shot in the mid '70s. Kartemquin Films. Producer/ Director/Editor/Sound.
  • THE GATES (film/video) traces the 26 year effort of Jean Claude and Christo to mount their installation, The Gates in Central Park. Maysles Films. Additional Cinematography.
  • 2005 IMAGINING AMERICA: ICONS OF 20TH CENTURY ART (HDTV), traces how art, over the century, provided a space in which to re-imagine America, to visualize what we were and wanted to become. Perry Films. PBS. Camera Assistant.
  • MIXED GREENS (film/video), an interactive CDRom that interrogates identity, assimilation, social and personal history, and narrative itself. Michelle Citron Productions. Cinematography.
  • 2004 HOWARD ZINN: YOU CAN'T BE NEUTRAL ON A MOVING TRAIN (video), a documentary on the life and work of historian, educator, and activist Howard Zinn. Moving Train Productions. First Run Features. Sundance Channel. Additional Cinematography.
  • 2003 ISHAI SAGI: AN INTERVIEW WITH AN ISRAELI REFUSER (video), this conversation with Ishai, an officer in the Israeli Defense Forces, details his reasons for refusing to serve in the Occupied Territories. Producer/Director.
  • 2002 STAGES: THREE DAYS IN MEXICO (video), behind-the-scenes documentary on Britney Spears' 2002 concerts in Mexico City. nvu Productions. Director/Cinematography/Sound Recordist.
  • DANCES ON THE PRAIRIE (video), examines issues of regional art and documents several Texas sculptors as they create installations for a sculpture garden. Metta Productions. Cinematographer.
  • 2001 JAZZ (film), ten-part PBS series traces the history of race relations through this unique American art form. Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, Producers. Camera Assistant.
  • GWISHALAAYT: THE SPIRIT WRAPS AROUND YOU (video), a journey of self-discovery for six Canadian First Nation men and women who have dedicated their lives to the tradition of Chilkat and Northern geometric weaving. Nimpkish Wind Productions. Additional Cinematography.
  • 2000 I'TUSTO: TO RISE AGAIN (video), after an arsonist burns down the Bighouse in Alert Bay, B.C., this documentary tells the story of the determination the Kwakwaka'wakw First Nation People to rebuild this space that is center of their culture. Nimpkish Wind Productions. Additional Cinematography.
  • 1999 VOICES OF CABRINI: REMAKING CHICAGO'S PUBLIC HOUSING (video), follows residents as they are relocated from their homes to make way for development. Bezalel Productions. Executive Producer.
  • 1998 FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT (film), two-part historical biography of this great architect examines his work and contradictions. Florentine Films: Ken Burns & Lynn Novick, Producers.Camera Assistant.
  • 1996 DALEY: THE LAST BOSS (film), historical biography about former Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley, concentrating on how housing, education, and ultimately issues of race create the modern American city. Social Media Productions & The American Experience. Nominated for a National Emmy. Chicago Coordinator/Camera Assistant.
  • 1994 A WORLD ON DISPLAY (film), using images and stories of the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, this film examines how turn-of-the-century ideas inform Western social history. New Deal Films. Additional Cinematography.
  • BASEBALL (film), ten- part PBS series about America's national pastime and how it defines the national character. Ken Burns & Lynn Novick, Producers. Camera Assistant.
  • 1992 THE 90s ELECTION SPECIAL: THE PRIMARY (video), behind-the-scenes look at the presidential primary election. PBS. Segment Producer.
  • TIME TO MAKE THAT CHANGE (video), teenagers respond to issues raised by "Eyes on the Prize" by making their own tape about education and violence. Boulevard Arts Center & Community TV Network. Nominated for Regional Emmy; curated for "City of Big Shoulders Show, " Glasgow. Producer/Editor/Supervising Instructor.
  • 1991 ON THE WATERWAYS (video), thirteen-part television series documenting the history culture industry, and ecology of North American waterways. Scott Craig Productions. PBS. Researcher/Location Manager.
  • A FAMILIAR WILDERNESS: NORTHWEST COAST (video), special exhibit videotape for the opening of the John G. Shedd Aquarium Oceanarium, documenting contemporary Native American salmon fishing, and the concerns of native fishermen. Producer/Director/Editor.
  • 1990 THE AMERICAN DREAM (film), documentary about the decline of the labor union movement, and its effect on workers, family, community and our notion of the American dream. Barbara Kopple, Producer. Feature-length Documentary Academy Award. Camera Assistant.
  • 1989 BATTERED (film), examines the problems of domestic violence. Lee Grant and Joseph Feury Productions. HBO Special. Camera Assistant.
  • 1988 GOLUB (film), follows New York artist Leon Golub, as he plans, paints, exhibits, and discusses one of his powerful canvasses about death squads in El Salvador. New York Film Festival, P.O.V. Kartemquin Educational Films. Associate Producer/Camera Assistant/Additional Cinematography.
  • 1985-1987 PORTRAIT OF AMERICA (film), television series depicting the people, environment, and culture of Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio. Scott Craig Productions & WTBS. Peabody Award. Camera Assistant.
  • 1986 THE INTERNATIONAL SWEETHEARTS OF RHYTHM (film), the story of multi-racial all-women's jazz band of the 1940's. Jezebel Productions. PBS. Camera Assistant.
  • 1985 THE ROOMMATE (film), dramatic adaptations of John Updike's short story The Christian Roommate. Rubicon Productions. American Playhouse, Best Independent Feature, FILMEX. Camera Assistant.
  • 1984 THE KILLING FLOOR (film), historic drama about the Meatcutters' unionization drive and race relations. Public Forum. American Playhouse. Camera Assistant.
  • TAYLOR CHAIN II: A STORY OF COLLECTIVE BARGAINING (film), details the complexities of contract negotiations between labor and management. Kartemquin Educational Films. PBS. Camera Assistant.
  • 1983 BOX OF TREASURES (film), the cultural programs of the Kwakwaka'wakw First Nation People of British Columbia. U'mista Cultural Centre & Olin Associates. Blue Ribbon, American Film Festival, CINE Golden Eagle, CBC. Research/ Location Manager/ Camera Assistant/ Additional Cinematography/Associate Producer.
  • SEEING RED (film), feature-length documentary about people who joined the American Communist Party, from its rise in popularity in the 1920's through the McCarthy era. Heartland Productions. Academy Award Nominee. Camera Assistant.
  • THE LAST PULLMAN CAR (film), documentary about the closing of the last rail car factory in the U.S. and the efforts of its workers to save their jobs. Kartemquin Educational Films. PBS. Camera Assistant.
  • 1982 THE BEN BELLA TAPES (video), interview taped in Paris with Ahmed Ben Bella, founding father of the National Liberation Front and ex-president of Algeria, addressing issues of Islamic fundamentalism. Distributed by CNRS, Paris. Producer/Director.
  • WHAT YOU TAKE FOR GRANTED (film), independent dramatic feature about women in non-traditional professions. Michelle Citron, Producer. Camera Assistant.
  • FAMILY BUSINESS (film), the problems of a family-run small business--the Snyder family and Shakey's Pizza of Muncie, Indiana. Middletown Film Project. PBS, National Emmy Nominee. Grip.
  • 1980 THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ROSIE THE RIVETER (film), interviews with women who worked in war-related industries during WWII. Connie Field, Producer. PBS. Camera Assistant.
  • 1978 THE POPOVICH BROTHERS OF SOUTH CHICAGO (film), documentary about Serbian musicians trying to maintain their heritage without isolating themselves from American values. Jill Godmilow & Balkan Arts Center. Location Manager.
  • 1975 IT'S A LIVING (video), follows the people from Studs Terkel's book, Working, at their daily jobs and incorporates footage of Studs at work. Videopolis. PBS. Co-Producer/Editor.
  • Additional film credits for PBS programs such as Nova, Frontline, American Masters, Great Performances, and the Children's Television Workshop. Camera Assistant on feature-film behind-the-scenes documentaries such as Backdraft and The Babe, for Universal. IATSE 600 Apprentice Camera Assistant on The Breakfast Club. Associate Producer and Director on HGTV's Extreme Homes, and The Good Life. Associate Producer for the Food Network's Cross-Country Cooking. Credits on numerous commercials, industrials and educational films.

Special Projects and Awards:

  • 2004. Nelson Algren Committee Award for community activists making a significant contribution to Chicago.
  • 2000. MacArthur Grant. For screenings of Voices of Cabrini.
  • 1999. Guest Artist, Big Muddy Film Festival.
  • 1997. Director of Video. Fuller Park Empowerment Zone Project.
  • 1997. Visiting Artist, Middlebury College.
  • 1995. Chair, Festival Artistic Advisory Committee. Festival of Illinois Film and Video Artists.
  • 1994. VOICE Award. Center for Community and Media.
  • 1992. NAP Grant. Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. Chicago Foundation for Women Grant.
  • 1991. CAAP Grant. Chicago Department for Cultural Affairs.
  • 1987. Midwest Regional Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts.
  • 1978. Scholarship Award, Robert Flaherty Film Festival.
  • 1974. Assistant to Jean Rouch, French ethnographic filmmaker during his lecture tours of the Midwest.
  • 1973. Staff Assistant, IXth International Congress on Anthropological & Ethnological Sciences, Visual Anthropology Conference.


  • 1996. "Barbara Kopple". International Dictionary of Film and Filmmakers--Vol.2: Directors Third Edition, St. James Press.
  • 1975. "Filmography Section". Principles of Visual Anthropology: First Edition, Mouton Publishers.

Teaching Experience:

  • University of Chicago, Humanities Division, Lecturer in the Committees on Cinema and Media Studies and Visual Arts. 2003 to present.
  • School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Instructor, Non-Fiction Film, 2001.
  • Columbia College. Acting Director, Documentary Film Center, Academic Year 1995 - 1996. Graduate and Undergraduate Courses: Documentary Vision; Documentary Production; Documentary Seminar; Making the Documentary; Art & Social Activism; Independent Producers' Workshop; Documenting Social Justice; Aesthetics of Television; Culture, Race and Media.
  • College of DuPage. Instructor. Introduction to Media Communications. 1996.
  • Chicago Filmmakers. Instructor. 16 mm Sync Camera Seminar; Lighting Cinematography; Developing the Documentary. 1990 - present.
  • Community Television Network. Coordinator. Advanced Videotape Seminar. 1984 - 2000.
  • Boulevard Arts Center. Supervising Video Instructor. 1992.
  • Gallery 37-Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. Supervising Video Instructor. 1991.
  • U'mista Cultural Centre. Video Consultant, Teacher, and Program & Curriculum Designer, training Kwakwaka'wakw First Nation People of British Columbia in video production and editing. 1980 - 1991.

Founding Member/Boards:

  • 2004 - Present, Board of Directors, Midwest Media Archives Alliance.
  • 1982 - Present. Board of Directors. Kartemquin Educational Films.
  • 2000 - Present. Board of Directors. Chicago Filmmakers.
  • 1984 - Founding Member, Women in Film, Chicago Chapter.
  • 1977 - Founding Member, Center for New Television.