Wesleyan portrait of Tracy Heather Strain

Tracy Heather Strain

Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies

Associate Professor of Film Studies and Co-Director of WesDocs

Center for Film Studies, 169

Associate Director, College of Film and the Moving Image


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AB Wellesley College
EDM Harvard University

Tracy Heather Strain

Tracy Heather Strain teaches documentary production, storytelling and history at Wesleyan and brings to her students an enthusiastic interest in all styles, modes, models and platforms used in crafting nonfiction films. She is an award-winning filmmaker who directs, produces, researches and writes documentaries which gained support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Ford Foundation, Chicken & Egg, Independent Television Service, LEF Foundation, among other funding organizations. 

In 1999 Strain won a Peabody Award for her first two feature documentaries "Bright Like a Sun" and "The Dream Keepers" as part of the six-part Blackside/PBS series I’ll Make Me a World: A Century of African American Arts, and another in 2019 for the American Masters television broadcast of “Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart,” the first feature film about the late artist/activist best-known for writing the play A Raisin in the Sun. The bio doc, which premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival also netted Tracy a 50th NAACP Image Award for Motion Picture Directing last year, the American Historical Association’s John E. O’Connor Film Award and a Creative Arts Emmy producing nomination. Her other directing and producing credits include “Building the Alaska Highway” for American Experience, “The Story We Tell” in Race: The Power of an Illusion and “When the Bough Breaks” in the duPont Columbia-award-winning Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?. She shares an Outstanding Research News & Documentary Emmy nomination for her contributions to "The Mine Wars" American Experience film. Strain is President and CEO of The Film Posse, the production company she co-founded with her partner and CFILM colleague Randall MacLowry. Together they have directed, produced and written the NEH-funded American Experience film "American Oz," which premiered in 2021. Her most recent directing, writing and producing effort, "Zora Neale Hurston: Claiming a Space" for American Experience, which was produced by MacLowry premiered in January 2023. The pair is producing Strain's feature essay film Survival Floating about Black peoples' relationships to swimming and water and the MacLowry-led music-rich John Henry: Unmasking America's Real First Black Superhero. Strain is a recipient of the 2022 Chicken & Egg Award. 

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Student Hours are Tuesdays 4:15pm-5:30pm scheduled via Calendly.


Fall 2024
FILM 385 - 01
Documentary History

FILM 430 - 01
Documentary Production