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

The Business of Amateurs: Degree Not Included

February 28th, 2017

student-athlete (n): an unrecognized profession where pain and gain are mutually exclusive. There are a fount of adjectives to describe college sports in the United States of America: Unjust, Immoral, Unethical, Dangerous, Risky, Unhealthy, Tragic—and having just viewed Bob DeMars The Business of Amateurs—add the noun, Travesty. There has been no want of news re ...Read More

Forced Perspective: A Profile of Artist Derek Hess

February 20th, 2017

If you’re an extremely talented, massively prolific, and commercially successful artist like Derek Hess, you want your documentarian to do justice to yourself and your work—to mirror the passion and dedication and authenticity you bring to your work, and consequently, to those who view it. That’s just what director/editor Nick Cavalier has done for Cleveland-based Hess with his film, Forced Perspective...Read More

Casablancas: The Man Who Loved Women

February 20th, 2017

‘In May 2011,’ the film begins, ‘John Casablancas met his friend Hupert Woroniecki in New York City. They spent three days locked in a studio and recorded his life story. What neither knew at the time was that John would die of cancer two years later, in 2013—making this recording a unique posthumous testimony on one of our most glamorous eras.’ Casablancas is an autobiography of John Casablancas who found ...Read More

Homeland: Iraq Year Zero

February 17th, 2017

“No way to live in peace, not under Sadam, not after him.” A distinguished Iraqi gentleman as he views a collaterally destroyed home. France-based Iraqi filmmaker Abbas Fahdel has single-handedly produced a monumental documentary film. Homeland: Iraq Year Zero is his coverage of the Ira ...Read More

The Mama Sherpas: Midwives Across America

February 16th, 2017

Brigid Maher’s The Mama Sherpas introduces the practice of nurse-midwives. The film covers their work in four birthing centers. The primary purpose is to promote this work and, in so doing, help reduce the number of unnecessary Cesarean births—and humanize our approach to the birthing process. Psychological pain, side-effects, scaring, an ...Read More

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