Don Schwartz Spotlight on Documentaries

Welcome to the Blog of actor/journalist/personal historian Don Schwartz.

Don has been published in a variety of publications since 1977. His book, Telling Their Own Stories: Conversations with Documentary Filmmakers, is available from Amazon in softback or Kindle edition.

Don holds multiple degrees, including a Ph.D. in psychology and counseling from the California Institute of Integral Studies.

Don is a regular guest on our web radio show, The Art of Film Funding, produced by From the Heart Productions, reviewing documentary films with founder Carole Dean—

Don also contributes film reviews and filmmaker profiles to CineSource Magazine online—

His weekly film review appears in The Marin Post

Don’s actor resumé, voice samples, and reel may be found at:

You can access Don’s Personal Historian services at:

You can find, and Like Don’s official Facebook page at

Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story

February 11th, 2017

The Kino Lorber Sound of Redemption disc was one of a pile of ten recently-received DVDs. I nonchalantly got to the disc, and found myself unexpectedly moved by this story of a troubled master. Frank Morgan lived a life of crime, addiction, and incarceration peppered by shor ...Read More

Hannah: Buddhism’s Untold Story

February 8th, 2017

Hannah Nydahl is a formerly unsung hero of Buddhism—Tibetan flavored. She and partner Ole studied and practiced Tibetan Buddhism intensely and devoted their lives to spreading the principles and practices of this philosophy or religion—depending on your perspective. Produced and directed by Marta György Kessler and Adam Penny, Hannah tells the couple’s epic story—their travels, adventures, and gratifying success in ...Read More

Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon

February 3rd, 2017

With Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead director/co-writer Douglas Tirola has given us a delightful, fascinating, entertaining story about the rise and fall of the seminal humor magazine “National Lampoon” (1970-1998). There are two foci in this history: The stories and characters involved in the publication, and the immeasurable impact the magazine and its creators had on the evolution of c ...Read More

First Position: Dancing for a Chance

January 28th, 2017

First Position opens with the following text: Youth America Grand Prix is the world’s largest ballet competition that awards full scholarships and job contracts to dancers age 9-19 Aran, Rebecca, Jules, Michaela, Joan, and Miko are the six dancers producer/director Bess Kargman follows to the completion of a year’s competition—out of the thousands who initially auditioned. Aran, Jules, and Joan a ...Read More

Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World

January 25th, 2017

Over the decades legendary auteur, Werner Herzog, has become quite the documentarian. When I spotted his documentary coverage of the internet—Lo and Behold—on Netflix, I was hesitant to press play. The internet is ubiquitous, and is the subject of non-stop media coverage and social dialog. What’s new? As always, my resista ...Read More

Yarn: Adorning the World

January 22nd, 2017

With interstitial narration written and performed by Barbara Kingsolver, Yarn profiles several yarn artists from several countries. We hear from and see the work of yarn graffiti artists, installation artists, and circus performers. In addition to a great variety of art work, we hear quite a variety of personalities speaking of t ...Read More

Pet Fooled: They Deserve Better

January 16th, 2017

A confluence of factors have induced me to cover this revealing documentary about the pet food industry. The deepest factor is having found myself an unofficial member of the animal rights movement—including the legal initiative to secure personhood rights for non-human animals. Added to that are my friends with pets who speak frequently—and with passion—about the food they provide to their animal companions. Finally, in the midst of my second half-century of life I find myself bonding with my friends’ dogs. My in ...Read More

(Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies

January 13th, 2017

“The bigger the brain, the larger the capacity to lie.” Murali Doraiswamy, Psychiatrist Duke Institute for Brain Science The title says it all in this documentary film about lying. Our host is Dan Ariely who is—and let me take a breath here—James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University. Our hero is also founder of the Center for Advanced Hindsight. His career is devoted to the study of human lying. The goal is to learn ways to improve human society. Ariely is the perfec ...Read More

Killswitch: Another Front on the Struggle for Democracy

January 10th, 2017

When I saw the title ‘Killswitch’ on Netflix, and noted that it’s about the internet, I immediately assumed the film is just another documentary about that subject, ‘I’ve seen enough of these,’ I thought. I was wrong. What sparked me to view the film was remembering the just-occurred, non-violent coup d'état that put Trump in power, and gave the Republican Party control of all three branches of our so-called democracy. Governmental corruption has been given a large dose of methamphetamine, and ...Read More

Minimalism: Imagine a Life with Less

January 2nd, 2017

“You can never get enough of what you don’t really want.” Rick Hanson, Ph.D., Neuropsychologist Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus—also known as The Minimalists—are partners on a quest: To promote the values of consuming less, owning less. Minimalism is one of the many tactics they are utilizing ...Read More