Judith Helfand


Judith Helfand, Filmmaker


Classes taught:
Thesis: Directing

Judith Helfand is best known for her ability to use her quirky sense of humor, irony, personal storytelling chops and the power of transparency to tackle some of the most pressing issues of our time -- from toxic chemical exposure to climate change. Her films have premiered at Sundance and been nationally broadcast on PBS (POV), HBO and The Sundance Channel. BLUE VINYL received the Sundance Award in Cinematography and two Emmy nominations; that film's prequel, A HEALTHY BABY GIRL, won a Peabody. Helfand’s other films include EVERYTHING’S COOL and THE UPRISING OF ‘34, and recently the short ABSOLUTELY NO SPITTING for 23&Me.

Her new film COOKED: SURVIVAL BY ZIP CODE, an award-winning documentary about extreme heat and the politics of disaster, is on a multi-city tour and will be broadcast on PBS/Independent Lens in 2020. She is also in post-production on LOVE & STUFF, an intergenerational love story about mourning her mother and becoming a “new old mom” at the same time.

Helfand is a field-builder who has helped reshape the documentary landscape by co-founding two critical organizations: Working Films and Chicken & Egg Pictures. As Creative Director of Chicken & Egg Pictures, she helped design and lead their mentorship and funding programs for nearly a decade; served as a producer on the Oscar-nominated short THE BARBER OF BIRMINGHAM; and Executive Producer on award-winners SEMPER FI: ALWAYS FAITHFUL; PRIVATE VIOLENCE; and HOT GIRLS WANTED. She continues to be a Senior Creative Consultant for the organization.

Helfand has received a United States Artist Fellowship, awarded to “America’s finest living artists", and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She has taught documentary filmmaking at NYU, UW Madison and The New School. She has become an expert at documentary pitch-training for markets and forums and is known for coming up with great film titles. She lives in NYC with her daughter Theodora and their beta-fish Maxi Taxi.

Faculty News view all

SocDoc at SXSW Festival 2020
February 13, 2020

SocDoc at SXSW Festival 2020

Winter is nearly behind us which means its time to kick off the 2020 festival season! 

SocDoc has a strong showing at South By Southwest this year. So if you' Read More
Camera, Sound & Budgeting Winter Weekend Workshops
January 15, 2020

Camera, Sound & Budgeting Winter Weekend Workshops

Interested in improving your documentary skills? Here are five workshops which can give you a whole range of skills to explore the wonderland of documentary. Whatever your professional background, these small classes will provide targeted and hands-o Read More
Sundance 2020: Alumni films at the festival!
January 14, 2020

Sundance 2020: Alumni films at the festival!

The SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2020 has announced their line up, which includes seven SocDoc titles!

In the US Documentary Competition, three of the sixteen selected features have SocDoc Alumni and Faculty on crew:
Read More
DOC NYC 2019 - SocDoc in Abundance!
October 21, 2019

DOC NYC 2019 - SocDoc in Abundance!

We are thrilled to see so many SocDoc filmmakers a part of this year’s DOC NYC line-up! DOC NYC, America's largeset documentary festival, is entering it's tenth year, November 6-15, 2019. We are proud long-time supporters of the festiva Read More