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

Jaco: A Biography of Music Legend Jaco Pastorius

January 1st, 2017

Known primarily in jazz circles, Jaco Pastorius revolutionized the playing of the electric bass guitar. He died in 1987 as a result of self-destructive activities. Jaco denied himself and the world an unfathomable amount of beautiful musics of many ilk. Early in his life he had a premonition that he would die at the age of 34. He was off by two years. This two-hour bio-doc became an instant must-see when I discovered it on ...Read More

Janis Joplin: Little Girl Blue

December 26th, 2016

It’s tough. Probably the reason people don’t see ‘em. Documentaries about unhappy subjects—and most of them are about such. When it comes to the world-changers I admire and respect, and whose passing was untimely, it’s even harder to break through the resistance to seeing their stories, reliving their public lives, pinning for another story their lives could have written—one in which they live and make even greater contributions to our world..., and my soul. Janis Joplin’s life story follows the sadly w ...Read More

The Overnighters: When Fracking Came to Town

December 22nd, 2016

Jesse Moss’s documentary, The Overnighters, has two foci: What happens to the small town of Williston, North Dakota when there is a fracking boon; and a character study of Jay Reinke, Pastor of Williston’s Concordia Lutheran Church. From an environmental perspective an ...Read More

Vince Giordano: There’s a Future in the Past

December 19th, 2016

A couple guys are loading a large white van with a large amount of large cases full of large musical instruments. One of the two men has a large crop of black wavy hair. Cut to a large dinner/dance club in a big city. A band is playing. Eleven players all in black tuxedos, performing a very fast tempo old-fashioned song. Sounds like the 1920s or 30s. Sounds like the music from most of Woody Allen’s movies. Sounds like some music I heard on Garrison Keillor’s ‘A Prairie Home Companion’ radio show. Sounds like Dix ...Read More

Hooligan Sparrow: Confronting China’s Power Structure

December 16th, 2016

Shot guerilla-style, Hooligan Sparrow follows Chinese political activist Ye Haiyan as she confronts the institutionalization of rape in China—specifically loopholes that allow government workers to have consensual or nonconsensual sex with female minors with little to no consequence for the perpetrators. Haiyan’s nom de plume is ‘Hooligan Sparrow.’ Haiyan is fighting two fronts: prostitution and rape. ...Read More

Mudbloods: An Introduction to Collegiate Quidditch

December 12th, 2016

Although obviously a contradiction in terms, a ‘mudblood’ is a muggle who happens to possess some kind of metaphysical power. Mudbloods is a documentary about intercollegiate quidditch. The film follows UCLA’s quidditch team through the 2011 season of play leading to the Annual World Cup competition in Middlebury, Vermont. Adjusting to terra firma requires each player—or mudblood—to run with a broom sti ...Read More

All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception, and the Spirit of I.F. Stone

December 10th, 2016

“My hope is that we miraculously produce a generation of young I.F. Stones. We need to stop keeping up with the Kardashians, and start going back and catching up on I.F. Stone.” Jeremy Scahill “There’s only two types of reporters. There’s those who care, and those who don’t. Most of them don’t care. But, if you care, if you are, as I was, in El Salvador, or Gaza, or Sarajevo, then you are immediately branded as political. Because if you care, you can’t lie to cover up oppression, atrocity, genocide. And, I. ...Read More

Speed Sisters: An All-Woman Racing Team

December 3rd, 2016

Looking for a film that takes you to a place you’ve never been, presented a world you never conceived? You found it. speed-sistersWith Speed Sisters director Amber Fares and crew take us to Palestine, and introduces the first all-woman car racing team in the Arab world. I can’t speak for you, but I confess my preconceptions were seriously damaged. The five women racers don’t wear headscarves, or any of th ...Read More

Best and Most Beautiful Things

December 2nd, 2016

“This movie has good music, kinky stuff, a cute cat, romance, drama, and is definitely not normal.” Michelle Smith michelle-smithDirector Garrett Zevgetis has had his first feature picked up for theatrical distribution—a rare accomplishment in the documentary film world. In Best and Most Beautiful Things Zevgetis follows Michelle Smith for a period of time in her young a ...Read More

Llyn Foulkes: The Most Famous Artist You Never Heard Of

November 26th, 2016

Llyn Foulkes is an LA-based carpenter, musician, composer, singer, yodeler....and artist. foulkesCo-produced and co-directed by first-time feature directors Tamar Halpern and Chris Quilty, Llyn Foulkes One Man Band (the film’s full title) follows the multi-talented, self-absorbed gentleman through seven years of ups and downs. His life and work are driven, in part, by a rebelli ...Read More