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Director and producer Tracy Heather Strain and producer and editor Randall MacLowry. Photo courtesy Eric Levin.

Tracy Heather Strain, filmmaker and CAMD Professor of the Practice, has been awarded an NAACP Image Award in the Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture (Television) category. The NAACP Image Awards is the preeminent multicultural awards show celebrating the accomplishments of people of color in the fields of television, music, literature and film, and also honors individuals or groups who promote social justice through creative endeavors. Professor Strain is recognized for Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart, a feature documentary that she directed, wrote, and produced – a 14-year long project. The film showcases the life of playwright Lorraine Hansberry, the African-American Chicago native best known for authoring A Raisin in the Sun (which opened in 1959). Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart debuted last winter on American Masters on PBS.

Strain was just a teenager when she discovered Hansberry, explaining to WBUR that her inspiration was born when her grandmother took her to a community playhouse production of To Be Young, Gifted and Black, a play about Hansberry created from her writings. She describes, “I’d never met anyone who had thoughts about class and race and gender similar to experiences [I had] as a child. It stayed with me.” While to most, Hansberry is best known for A Raisin in the Sun, which even earned her a New York Drama Critics Circle Award, to Strain, there is so much more to the acclaimed author than this piece. The mission to showcase this was the driving force behind Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart.

Congratulations, Professor Strain!