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 Hardest Day: Love, Loss, and the Last Moments Between

Ross Taylor and Luke Rafferty have made the best possible feature documentary about in-home pet euthanasia. Until watching their documentary, I did not know that was even an option, let alone how widely available it has become. Likely, many people do not know about it. Hopefully, more will learn about in-home pet euthanasia now that the two gentlemen have produced ...Read More

Entangled: The Fight for the Right Whale

Entangled is a masterfully crafted documentary film directed by David Abel, and edited and co-produced by Andy Laub. Both gentlemen are vastly multi-talented and highly accomplished. Their film covers a classic conflict between environmental values and commercial concerns. The North Atlantic Right whale is on the verge of extinction. Fishing lines, ropes and sh

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The Elephant Queen

Filmed in Kenya, Africa, at the Tsavo East National Park and the Greater Amboseli Tsavo Ecosystem, The Elephant Queen follows a herd of elephants through a season of drought and rain, births and deaths. Athena, the story’s Queen, is the 50-year-old sole leader of the herd. Directed by the highly accomplished and lauded team of Victoria Ston

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Finding Courage: Confronting China’s Pogrom Against Falun Gong Practitioners

Finding Courage is Kay Rubacek’s first feature documentary. Although first, the film is clearly the work of a seasoned professional. In 1999, the Chinese Communist Party ordered the eradication of a meditation practice called Falun Gong or Falun Dafa. People in China are disallowed to talk about this practice. Since that ga

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Dark Circle: A Primer on the Catastrophic Power of Nuclear Energy

I just viewed First Run Features 2K HD restoration of the 1983 documentary, Dark Circle—about nuclear power. This is not a review, rather it is a notice about the restored version and how imperative it is for us to remind ourselves of the non-stop apocalyptic realities of nuclear power. The film was written and directed by

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“When everything is destroyed, you can’t put a price tag on the history, the family, and the land that is gone.” In 2006, PT Lapindo Brantas, an Indonesian oil and gas company, was drilling in the sub-district of Porong, Sidoarjo, in East Java, Indonesia. There was a giant explosion of mud. The non-stop eruption of mud continues to this day, and is expected to continue until at least 2030. Much of the mud is being channeled to a river. Lapindo claims the eruption

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Warrior Women

“This country is built on the bones of our ancestors. We have our culture, we have our way of life, our language. What we’re trying to do is retain it, retain our right as a people—to be Indian. We want to be what we are, not what you are.” Madonna Thunder Hawk Directed by Elizabeth Castle and Christina D. King, Warrior Women is a docum

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Bruce Springsteen’s Letter to You

“The E Street Band is a finely tuned instrument of great flexibility and power. They can float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. Our years of playing together have created a shorthand and efficiency in the studio comparable to a finely tuned racing engine. We are a unit 45 years in the making, decades in the refining—and we bring that power to bear when we engage with you. We perform in service to our audience. The pay is great, but you’re the reason

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Personhood: Policing Pregnant Women in America

“Your Honor, under Wisconsin statute 48.133, we are requesting temporary physical custody of the unborn child whose mother is Tamara Loertscher.”—litigator Tammy Loertscher was living in Wisconsin, she was not aware of the draconian laws the state enacted to gain control of in utero human fetuses. When she simply, innocently asked questions and expressed concerns to her doctor about her first pregnancy, she found herself in a Kafkaesque world. Her unborn huma

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Stray: The Street Dogs of Istanbul

Preamble: On December 7, 2017, I posted my review of ‘Kedi’—a documentary film about the stray cats of Istanbul. I love animals, and am delighted to share my review of Elizabeth Lo’s Stray about the stray dogs of Istanbul. As a lover of our natural world which includes, of course, cats and dogs, I am deeply concerned about animals who are not cared for. ...Read More