Wesleyan portrait of Tracy Heather Strain

Tracy Heather Strain

Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies

Associate Professor of Film Studies and Co-Director of the Wesleyan Documentary Project

Center for Film Studies, 169

Associate Director, College of Film and the Moving Image


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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 her latest directing effort, “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 January 17 on PBS stations nationwide, PBS.org and the PBS Video app. She is a recipient of the 2022 Chicken & Egg Award.

Academic Affiliations

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


Spring 2024
FILM 384 - 01
Documentary Storytelling

FILM 386 - 01
Documentary Since Television