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

Gardeners of Eden: Saving Elephants in the Wild

October 19th, 2016

gardenersofeden5Produced, directed, shot, and edited by Austin Peck and Annaliese Vandenberg, Gardeners of Eden is another look at our slaughter of elephants in the wild. The emphasis, though, is on initiatives to save wild elephants and end the slaughter. The film reports that out of a population of 3.5 million, 300,000 wild elephants remain—and their survival is in question. The total elimination of wild elephants is still a tragic possibility. Of course, information about and images of the killi ...Read More

Closure: A Documentary About Adoption

October 16th, 2016

This story transcends geographical boundaries, racial boundaries, socio-economic and cultural boundaries. Although the film’s title denotes completion, this is a film about many beginnings. screenshotangmeetingdeb300dpicg-jpgClosure is Bryan Tucker’s first feature documentary film. Quickly we see he is a natural-born filmmaker. Angela was born of African-American parents in 1985, in Ten ...Read More

The Ghosts in Our Machine: The Work of Photographer Jo-Anne McArthur

October 14th, 2016

“You connect with them because you’re looking in their eyes, and they’re looking in yours.” Jo-Anne McArthur ronI have never had such trepidation about sharing my review of a documentary film. I know how hard the information and images in this film are to stomach, to let in to our minds and hearts. I know the reluctance to even start this film about animal abuse and slaughter. For reasons I struggle to understand, it seems people can learn about the myriad kinds of injustice and destruction on our planet, yet it ...Read More

The Many Sad Fates of Mr. Toledano

October 13th, 2016

Phillip Toledano is a prolific multi-media artist. Very multi-media, very prolific. Here is his CV. sad-fatesThe Many Sad Fates of Mr. Toledano is filmmaker Joshua Seftel’s faithful coverage of iconic photographer Phillip Toledano’s three-year-long personal exploration of his fears of growing old. ...Read More

The Red Pill: Cassie Jaye’s Fall Down the Rabbit Hole

October 7th, 2016

In my introduction to Telling Their Own Stories: Conversations with Documentary Filmmakers I compared the watching of documentaries to taking The Matrix’s ‘red pill’ the act of which indicates the taker is committed to seeing the world as it is—not as they imagine or wish, just as it is. captureCassie Jaye’s latest release, The Red Pill, is well-titled. Jaye decided to learn the core issues of somethi ...Read More

The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: A Tale of Billionaires & Ballot Bandits

October 3rd, 2016

greg-palast-3Written, directed, and starring Greg Palast, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy is another look at the usurpation of the United States’ government—and many states’ governments—by the wealthy and powerful. The film is as entertaining as it is infuriating. Palast portrays an amalgam of journalist and noir film detective as he doggedly seeks the per ...Read More

Talent Has Hunger: Seven Students, Seven Years

September 25th, 2016

jackie-plays-at-the-juries_cuJosh Aronson’s Talent Has Hunger follows legendary cello teacher Paul Katz and a group of students over a period of seven years. The film is a rare opportunity and treat to experience the depth and breadth of skills required to master an instrument, and the dedication it takes to stay with the challenges of learning and changing over so many years—let ...Read More

How to Dance in Ohio: ‘We like to socialize, but we don’t know how.’

September 23rd, 2016

Whatever the etiology, the number of children who develop autism has increased dramatically, if not exponentially. This tragic phenomenon has created an inevitable subculture—with micro-cultures within that subculture. One of those sub-subcultures is individuals ‘on the higher functioning end of the autism spectrum.’ htdio-still-5How to Dance in Ohio follows a group of adolescents who receive a variety of serv ...Read More

You See Me: Forgiveness Is Relative

September 20th, 2016

stanley-natalie-linda-and-susan-brown-reading-pa-scaledYou See Me is a documentary film about the filmmaker’s family. Veteran documentarian Linda J. Brown tells her family’s story. She is searching for meaning, understanding, and resolution in the lifelong dynamics of this family. Her father, Stanley, is the central character, the central mystery. Brown uses interview, n ...Read More

Shamans of the Global Village

September 15th, 2016

Directed by Niles Heckman and hosted by Rak Razam, Shamans of the Global Village covers the resurgence of shamanistic practices in the West. Each episode will cover a shaman and a particular ethnogenic medicine she or he incorporates in their practice. The series’ planned episodes are listed below. sgv_bio_namastdave-3The first episode—premier date is October 1, 2016—features Dr. Octavio Rettig, a medical s ...Read More