In the late 1950s, when Lorraine Hansberry set out to write a play about the struggles of an ordinary black family on Chicago’s South Side, no work by a female African-American playwright had ever been produced on Broadway. Nearly six decades later her acclaimed, groundbreaking play “A Raisin in the Sun” remains a beloved theatrical jewel, but the fascinating story of its author is not widely known. In the new feature-length documentary Sighted Eyes|Feeling Heart, award-winning filmmaker Tracy Heather Strain explores the life and work of this passionate writer and civil-rights advocate, who played a significant role in the major cultural and political movements of her time. Narrated by award-winning actress LaTanya Richardson Jackson and featuring the voice of Tony Award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose as Lorraine Hansberry, Sighted Eyes|Feeling Heart is filled with insightful on-camera interviews with those who knew her best, and rare archival material, creating a nuanced portrait of an activist and artist whose words and ideas are as relevant today as they were when she first wrote them.
TRACY HEATHER STRAIN (Producer, Director, Writer) is an award-winning documentary filmmaker committed to using film, video and interactive technology to reveal the ways that race, ethnicity, gender and class work to shape lives. Since 1986 Strain has worked on numerous documentaries for PBS as well as videos for museums, schools and nonprofits. She is president and CEO of Boston-based media company The Film Posse, which she runs with her husband Randall MacLowry.
Strain produced the festival favorite documentary Adrift: Lost on the Road of Expectations (2002) and wrote and directed the notable episode “Building the Alaska Highway” (2005) for the long-running PBS series “American Experience.” She also wrote and directed “The Story We Tell,” an installment of “Race: The Power of an Illusion,” a three-part documentary that aired on PBS in 2003.
Strain’s most recently broadcast documentaries for “American Experience” are “The Mine Wars” and “The Battle of Chosin,” serving as coordinating producer on both. The first tells the story of West Virginia coal miners’ uprisings in the early 20th century; the other revisits a pivotal 1950 Korean War battle, the first major military clash of the Cold War.
Previously, Strain directed and produced episodes of two award-winning documentary miniseries: “Unnatural Causes” (2008), winner of the duPont-Columbia Award, and “I’ll Make Me a World: A Century of African-American Arts” (1999), a Peabody Award winner. She was also associate producer of one episode of the 1993 series “The Great Depression,” a nominee for the Television Critics Association (TCA) Award for Best Program of the Year. Each of these projects aired on PBS.
Strain worked as an art department coordinator on Mira Nair’s 1991 feature Mississippi Masala, starring Denzel Washington. She began her career as a production secretary at The Chedd-Angier Production Company in Watertown, Massachusetts, which produced science, nature and technology-focused public television episodes.
A graduate of Wellesley College, Strain received her master of education degree (technology, innovation and education) from Harvard. She is now a professor of the practice at Northeastern University in Boston, where she teaches documentary production part-time. When Strain isn’t working she can usually be found on the tennis court or at the gym.
RANDALL MACLOWRY (Producer, Editor) is an Emmy® nominee and two-time WGA Award winner who works primarily in the television arena. A director, writer, producer and editor with over 25 years of experience, he crafts documentary stories that connect society’s large historical and cultural narratives with individual life journeys. Much of MacLowry’s work has been for the PBS series “American Experience,” most recently “The Battle of Chosin” and “The Mine Wars.” He directed and produced both episodes, which aired last year.
MacLowry earned an Emmy nomination in 2012 (Outstanding Science and Technology Programming) for his work on the long-running PBS series “Nova.” He won WGA Awards for co-writing the 2013 “Nova” episode “The Fabric of the Cosmos: The Illusion of Time,” which he also directed and produced, and the 2014 “American Experience” PBS episode “Silicon Valley.”
Since 2001 MacLowry has produced eight episodes of “American Experience,” directed six, written or-co-written four, and edited four episodes of this award-winning PBS series. He also edited an installment of “Race: The Power of Illusion,” a three-part documentary that aired on PBS in 2003. Other editing credits include the 2013 short film The Man Who Stole the Moon, 2011 “Frontline” episode “The Silence” and Gaining Ground: Building Community on Dudley Street, an hour-long documentary released in 2012. He also co-produced one episode of the 2008 documentary miniseries “Unnatural Causes” and directed the 1998 short film Head Over Heels.