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August 17, 2023
Time7:00 pm

Virtual Talks with Video Activists: Judy Hoffman

Join Media Burn Independent Video Archive for a screening and discussion of Judy Hoffman’s HSA Strike ’75, Imbed This, and A Familiar Wilderness: Northwest Coast Salmon Fishing.

The event will examine the narratology of Hoffman’s work, from the more traditionally-produced HSA Strike ’75 to Imbed This, which approaches documentary through a more guerrilla lens, looking at how the creator of documentary film influences and stands in relation to their own work.

About Judy Hoffman

Judy Hoffman is a retired Professor of Practice in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. During the 1973 International Congress on Ethnological and Anthropological Sciences, she assisted French ethnographer and filmmaker Jean Rouch, and became deeply influenced by cinéma vérité and the idea of shared anthropology. She was active in the Alternative Television Movement of the early 1970s, experimenting in the use of small format video equipment. Hoffman, a member of Kartemquin Films, played a significant role in their formation and worked on numerous documentaries with them. The first woman film Camera Assistant in Chicago, Hoffman apprenticed in IATSE on feature films such as The Breakfast Club, but ultimately chose documentary. She has also produced, directed, and shot museum and gallery installations for the Shedd Aquarium of Chicago, the Smart Museum of Art, and the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art. 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”. 

HSA Strike ’75

The 1975 HSA strike began on October 27th of that year and lasted for 18 days, making it the longest and largest doctors’ strike in the US. The strike was organized by the Housestaff Association (HSA), a union of residents and interns, who protested the working conditions and poor facilities at Cook County Hospital. This hospital—Chicago’s only public hospital—mostly served the city’s poor and uninsured. Hoffman’s HSA Strike ’75 (produced 1976) documents this strike throughout its run.

Imbed This

Created by Hoffman in only one day, Imbed This (2003) documents a protest against US military involvement in the Iraq War. During the protest, which takes place in Chicago’s very own Daley Plaza, Hoffman captures not only protesters with her camera but spends time focusing on and interviewing reporters and police officers at the site, painting a picture of the complex mechanisms of protests.

A Familiar Wilderness: Northwest Coast Salmon Fishing

A Familiar Wilderness (2002), a documentary commissioned for the opening of the Shedd Aquarium’s Oceanarium, documents an aboriginal fisherman, Roy Cranmer, fighting to preserve the ‘Namgis band’s historic fishing grounds and land of origin while protecting the vibrant ecosystems and salmon populations that have sustained the Pacific Northwest Coast region for centuries. Also known by the anglicized name Nimpkish, the ‘Namgis are part of the Kwakwaka’wakw (initially named the Kwakiut’l by Franz Boas) First Nation and have their homeland in what is now British Columbia, on the northern end of Vancouver Island. Hoffman has maintained a long relationship with the ‘Namgis band, having been adopted into the Cranmer family at the Cranmer potlatch in November 2017. This video was a collaborative effort with the First Nation people of Alert Bay, B.C., and continues to be shown there at the U’mista Cultural Centre.