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


Kiss The Ground: Regenerating Earth

“We get the soil right, we can fix a lot of our issues. Healthy soils lead to a healthy plant, healthy plant, healthy animal, healthy human, healthy water, healthy climate.” Ray Archuleta, Conservation Agronomist Directed by Joshua Tickell and Rebecca Harrell Tickell, Kiss The Ground is all about soil—not lifeless dirt, but fertile soil.

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Some Kind of Heaven: ‘Cocoon’ Almost Comes True

Lance Oppenheim's Some Kind of Heaven starts out with a ballet of eight golf carts being directed by an elderly woman with a wireless microphone and a loud speaker. Following the ballet is a brief shot of a large rowboat driven by ten elderly rowers with the master rower at the back encouraging his charges, and following that is a very large swim

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Playing For Keeps: The Upside of Downtime

“Some of my research has been with hunter/gatherer cultures. Children are free, they’re free to play and explore all the time. The adults believe that’s how they learn what they need to know. Children, all over the world, when they’re free they play at the whole range of activities that human beings have to develop skills at. They play at building things, they play with imagination, at logic, they play at language. Play is how children learn to create their

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In Case of Emergency: Sixteen Nurses Tell Their Stories

“You can’t explain to your kid what it’s like to see somebody die or to see somebody so distressed or in agony. To hold somebody’s hand as their heart stops beating is a very hard thing to explain to anybody else. “What we have been through has been extremely trying. We have seen so much suffering. We have seen so much death. I know I’ve been very distracted, that’s the easiest way to describe it. Distracted by what we’ve seen throug

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The Judge

Directed by veteran filmmaker Erika Cohn, The Judge tells the story of Kholoud Al-Faqih, the first woman judge to be appointed to Middle East’s Shari’a (Islamic law) civil courts. Living and working in Palestine, lawyer Kholoud uses her skills, passion, and heart to break a misogynist glass ceiling. Cohn brings her camera to Palestine, into the offices,

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Aggie: An Incredible Story of Art and Justice

Agnes ‘Aggie’ Gund was born in 1938, in Cleveland, Ohio. She bore four children one of which, Catherine Gund, has directed this fast-paced documentary about her mother’s life and times. Aggie’s work was sparked at the age of 15 when she had an art history teacher who “didn't just give you the artist's name and the date of the picture, she showed you how to look at artwork.” Her Bachelor’s degree was in history, her Master’s degree was in art history from

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Collective: A Fire in Romania

On October 30, 2015, there was a fire at the 'Colectiv' nightclub in Bucharest, Romania. The fire killed 64 young people, and injured 146 more. Of the 64 people killed, 38 died in the hospital—not from their fire wounds, but from massive amounts of hospital-born infections. There are several heroes in Alexander Nanau’s Collective, I want to focus on three of

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Zappa: The Life and Times of Frank Zappa

“Zappa is inarguably one of the most significant, beloved, misunderstood, provocative and controversial artists of the twentieth century.” Alex Winter, filmmaker Alex Winter’s Zappa is the documentary about Frank Zappa I have been awaiting for a long time. I first encountered Frank Zappa’s work when I purchased and listened to his debut LP, ‘Freak Out!’ the su

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The Perfect Weapon: Cyber Warfare Around the World

“It begins to kind of destroy any trust that people have. And that destroys the credibility of democracy. That’s what Putin wants.” John Podesta—political consultant who served as White House Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton from 1998 to 2001, and Counselor to President Barack Obama from 2014 to 2015 After viewing John Maggio’s T

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Belly of the Beast: Forced Sterilization of Women Prisoners in California

At some point in the 1930s, German researchers came to California as part of their research into eugenics. They had learned that the State has the most aggressive program of the forced sterilization of female prisoners in the world, and wanted to learn about and apply California's methods to their own eugenics program. Erika Cohn’s Belly of the Beast

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