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

Muscle Shoals: A Slice of American Music History

September 26th, 2014

Muscle Shoals is a city in northwest Alabama, along the south side of the Tennessee River, in the United States of America. Muscle Shoals is a documentary masterpiece which covers the birth and history of the city as an international hub for R&B, pop, and rock singers. In telling and showing Muscle Shoals’ musical story, first time director Greg 'Freddy' Camalier also tells the story of Rick Hall whose life appears to have emerged from Greek mythology – an amalgam of Homer’s The Odyssey and the The Phoenix. Raised in abject poverty, Hall experienced tragedies throughout his life. After a few of them, he opened a sound studio called ‘Fame’ in the late 195 ...Read More

Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart

September 25th, 2014

The answer is: Phil Spector and Pamela Smart.   The question is: Who are the two imprisoned people who have had HBO filmscaptivated-the-trials-of-pamela-smart-1024 about their trials and that question their convictions and sentences? Written and directed by David Mamet, and starring Helen Mirren and Al Pacino, the narrative film, Phil Spector, ...Read More

Connected: Tiffany Shlain Saves the World

September 24th, 2014

No, seriously, she does. With her film, Connected: An Autoblogography About Love, Death, and Technology. Let me explain. Webby-Awards-Founder-Tiffany-Shlain-720x340Tiffany Shlain is an internationally renowned multi-media producer/writer/director/speaker/author/innovator, and leader. Just a partial list of her accomplishments is...  intimidating ...Read More

May I Be Frank: How Frank Ferrante Got His Grove Back

September 24th, 2014

You can go to the website of May I Be Frank and read much praise for this film – and I add my voice to that chorus. But in addition to being an inspiring story of personal transformation, May I Be Frank is a lesson in money and filmmaking. Near the beginning of the film we hear one of the three filmmakers express what Frankappears to the eye as quite obvious: “We’ve never made a movie before.” They’re not usin ...Read More

Unlikely Friends: Total Strangers, Brutal Crimes

September 23rd, 2014

Unlikely Friends focuses on a few victims of violent crime who have developed strong friendship bonds with their perpetrators. UnlikelyThe adjective, ‘unlikely,’ is an understatement. The reason why victims do this is debatable. The immeasurable value of victims and perpetrators bonding is clearly revealed in writer/producer/director Leslie Neale’s powerful documentary. With narration by Mike Ferrell and interview ...Read More

Mobilize: Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Cell Phones

September 22nd, 2014

Most of us know there’s a problem with the electro-magnetic radiation emitted by cell phones, and some of us take some measure of caution in our use of them. If you are one of those cell phone users who is not taking precautions, that state ofMobilize Still 1 affairs will end after you watch Kevin Kunze’s film, Mobilize. In its brief 84 minutes we learn about the latest research pointing out the long-te ...Read More

The Winding Stream: The Big Bang of Country Music

September 22nd, 2014

Documentary films have the power to bring us into worlds we never heard of, or barely know of—worlds we may have no interest in whatsoever. indexBut if we follow the filmmaker’s Yellow Brick Road we are amazed at how much fun it was, how fascinating and engaging—grateful we took the first step and kept walking. Directed by highly accomplished filmmaker Beth Harrington, The Wind ...Read More

The Horse Boy: A Family’s Quest for Healing

September 21st, 2014

The Horse Boy is about a Texas family: Kristin Neff, a professor of psychology; Rupert Isaacson, a journalist, human rights advocate and former horse trainer; and their son Rowan Isaacson who was diagnosed with autism at age two.Horseboy Rowan in Mongolia The origins of this documentary say as much about the filmmakers as the film itself. Director Michael Orion S ...Read More

Levitated Mass: A Moving Stone

September 20th, 2014

Prolific filmmaker Doug Pray’s Levitated Mass tells the story of the moving of amichael-heizers-levitated-mass-installation-at-lacma-1340410051_org rock from one place to another. The rock in question weighs 340 tons. It was moved from a southern California above-ground mining operation to the Los Angeles Mu ...Read More

Chely Wright: Wish Me Away

September 19th, 2014

Not being conchely-wright1-620x455nected to the worlds of pop culture or country music, I’d never heard the name, ‘Chely Wright.’ Sitting in a stack of two dozen documentary screeners all waiting to be viewed and reviewed was this screener with the title, Chely Wright: Wish Me Away; and at the top of the case the words: “A Nashville Star Comes Out And Finds Her True Voice”. My attitude was cavalier, nonchalant – just another gay-related story. But I put it in the Blu-ray player and pres ...Read More