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 cinéma vérité 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 holds an appointment at the University of Chicago, as Senior Lecturer in the Committee on Cinema and Media Studies and Department of Visual Arts.