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


Bulletproof: The Impact of School Shootings

Director Todd Chandler opens his documentary film, Bulletproof, with sequences of high school students at school, participating in normal activities—band, cheerleaders, ROTC, kids in hallways, sports, acting and media classes. But, the very first normal activity Chandler presents is a very elaborate active shooter/lockdown drill—the new normal in schools of the Un

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Filmmaker Interview: Kimberly Warner

Kimberly Warner is a veteran multi-talented filmmaker from Oregon. Her current project is entitled ‘Unfixed’ which refers to people who have maladies for which there are no cures. By virtue of being unfixed herself, Kimberly is already producing an ‘Unfixed’ podcast, and will be continuing work on a stand-alone documentary film when the pandemic subsides. Being unfixed myself, I became instantly interested in her work.     When did yo

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Boys State: A Week with Boys Building Their Own Political World

From the film’s introduction: “(Political) parties are likely to become potent engines by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government.” George Washington, 1796 Context from Wikipedia: American Legion Boys State and American Legion Auxiliary Girls State are summer leadership and citizenship programs for high school juniors, which focus on explor

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Music Got Me Here: The Odysseys of Forest and Tom

“When I found music, that’s when I found myself” Tom Sweitzer, Music Therapist Tom Sweitzer was an only child raised by very dysfunctional parents. As the quote above suggests, music was his savior. He is from Altoona, Pennsylvania, and lives in Middleburg, Virginia. Sweitzer first met Forest Allen when the latter was in kindergarten and when the former was teaching music and drama at a private school. Forest was multi-talented, adventurous, and fr

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Coded Bias: Artificial Intelligence on the Loose

Joy Buolamwini, a PhD candidate at MIT Media Lab at the time, created an ‘artificial intelligence’ (AI) app called ‘Aspire Mirror’ which functions like a mirror. She would look in the ‘mirror’ and view inspiring images projected on her face. She noted immediately that when she put on a white mask it would be detected by the app. However, when she used her own African American face, the image would not be detected. This discovery put Buolamwini on a path

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The Mystery of DB Cooper

“The cult of Cooper started before the plane even landed.” Interviewee In November, 1971, a gentleman who goes (or went by) the name ‘DB Cooper’ hijacked a Boeing 727 airliner out of Portland, Oregon. He announced his intention as the plane was taking off, claiming he had a bomb, and then displaying it to a ‘stewardess’ (the old, sexist term for ‘flight attendant’) Tina Mucklow who was the one person Cooper wanted on his hijacking odyss

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Operation Odessa

“Do You Want the Submarine with Missiles or Without Missiles?” Tarzan In 1997, a federal task force uncovered a plot to sell a Soviet military-style submarine to a Columbian drug cartel for $35 million. In the style of a fast-paced 1980s caper movie, director Tiller Russell tells the story of how a few gangsters almost got away with this caper. Tiller juxtaposes interviews of the perpetrators with those of former governmental agents. Russian immig

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For They Know Not What They Do

Eschewing narration, For They Know Not What They Do features four families speaking about their children’s gender and sexual orientation issues. Each family tells a story of their experience of a child dealing with his or her issue. In between the stories we hear from five ‘experts’ (for want of a better word) sharing their thoughts of and expe

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IRMI: The Life and Times of Irmi Selver

“Through her darkest times my mother’s resilience grew out of her deep connections with people across generations.” Filmmaker Veronica Selver Irmi Selver was born into a comfortable Jewish family in Germany, in 1906, and passed in 2004, in New York City, at the age of 97. Susan Fanshel and Veronica Selver tell Irmi’s story in their sweet, engaging, and fascinating documentary, ...Read More

Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds

Directed by Werner Herzog and Clive Oppenheimer, Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds is seemingly all about rocks and dust that arrive from outer space—meteors, meteorites, micrometeorites, and asteroids. But, that is just the tip of the iceberg. The film addresses the human impacts of all these rocks sett

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