FLEFF Profile: Judy Hoffman

By Rachael Geary, March 19, 2021
We Tell: Fifty Years of Participatory Community Media, will be featuring Judy Hoffman's film, HSA Strike '75

A shelf filled with books is in the background of Judy Hoffman’s Zoom screen. Hoffman greets me, wearing circular, blue-framed glasses.

The glasses that I am wearing in our interview are not quite as spunky as Hoffman’s.

We Tell: Fifty Years of Participatory Community Media, will exhibit 40 media projects, including Hoffman’s film, HSA Strike ’75. HSA Strike ’75 is a short documentary film about a union of interns and residents at Cook County Hospital in Chicago striking for better patient care.

When Hoffman made the film in 1975, she was working at a free health clinic in the Chicago area.

“All of us who worked in free health clinics kind of knew each other,” Hoffman said. “We help each other.”

Hoffman was familiar with a number of the people who were striking at Cook County Hospital. So, when the strike occurred, both Hoffman and the strikers felt that the event ought to be documented.

Hoffman explained that growing up in the 1950s, documentaries being shown were told from the point of view from one dominant culture. When I asked Hoffman why she did not decide to include testimonies from people who were against the strike, she brought up the idea of objectivity.
“With a certain political consciousness and ideology, you realize that those voices are heard I don't need to give those voices any time,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman believes that including both sides is a false claim that hinders people from sharing their point of view.

 In HSA Strike ’75, all the interviews in her film are from the voices of the strikers.

“Particularly in political documentaries, you have alliances with people, and you work with them,” Hoffman said. “It's not so much about the product as it is the process, and you create something and give voice to people who don't normally have access to the media.”