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 Wavy Gravy Movie: Saint Misbehavin’—10th Anniversary Edition

Although I regret not having seen The Wavy Gravy Movie when it was released in 2009, I am grateful and excited to have seen this thoroughly gratifying Kino Lorber 10th Anniversary Edition with its 2019 interview of Wavy Gravy and wife Johanara Romney—and with over 55 minutes of additional scenes. This review is fo

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City Dreamers: Four Women and the Dream of a Fundamentally Human and Inclusive City

Directed by prolific filmmaker Joseph Hillel, City Dreamers profiles the above mentioned four who, at the time of production, were between the ages of 87 and 97—and still active. Denise Scott Brown, Phyllis Lambert, Blanche Lemco van Ginkel, and Cornelia Hahn Oberlander are icons—if not legends—in the worlds of architecture an

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Bellingcat: Truth in a Post-Truth World

“Bellingcat doesn’t have institutional support. They don’t have a big building at The Hague, or Brussels where they do their work. They actually publish very detailed analysis, and many of them are volunteers, living at home—they don’t have security. What they do is really risk a great deal to find out the truth in very complex situations that include major global players.” Professor Claire Wardle, Executive Director,  ...Read More

Scheme Birds: If You Stay Here, You Either Get Locked Up or Knocked Up

Gemma is 18 years old. She smokes cigarettes, and lives in Motherwell, Scotland, a thriving community until Margaret Thatcher’s policies brought down the steel mill. She and her companions are called ‘scheme birds.’ “A scheme,” she says, “is like a non-snobby place to stay.” Gemma never knew her mother. She was raised, instead, by her grandfather who she calls Papa. Papa is teaching her boxing. When not teaching, Papa raises and releases large

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What Do You Believe in Now?—The Spiritual Journeys of American Millennials

In 2002, veteran filmmaker Sarah Feinbloom produced and directed What Do You Believe?—The Religious Lives of American Teenagers. The award-winning film was featured on PBS, and screened internationally. Now, in 2019, she has released her follow-up film ...Read More

Another Look at Steve Burrows’ BLEED OUT

September 8, 2019 I had occasion to contact filmmaker Steve Burrows recently with an inconsequential question. After that was laid to rest I asked him what’s next in his professional life, and he gave me an unanticipated dramatic earful about the incredible success of his 2018 film, BLEED OUT—about injuries and deaths caused by medical errors—th

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Cooked: Survival by Zip Code

“It had never been more obvious to me how deeply flawed and immoral our national priorities are. I started this film questioning our very definition of ‘disaster,’ and amending it, convinced that if we just enlarge that definition, we could address the underlying conditions that are literally killing people every day." Judith Helfand The Chicago 1995 heat wave that killed at least 739 people is the inciting incident in  ...Read More

Unraveling Athena: The Odyssey of a Tennis Champion

Unraveling Athena tells many stories of the path from little girl to number one world tennis champion. Produced and directed by Francis Amat, the film traces the journeys of 21 champions from early childhood to post career. Each champion has undergone an extensive interview which editor Pepe Plaza has skillfully woven the into

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The Family: America’s Global Unification of Church and State

Prolific documentary filmmaker Jesse Moss has introduced us to ‘The Family’ via his film of the same name. Available on Netflix, The Family covers this now not-so-secret-organization’s history and global outreach. Founded by Abraham Vereide in 1935, in San Francisco, the loosely structured organization expanded and spread around the globe. The key players attempted to keep this non-organization organization secret as long as possible. Yet, now there is this five-part documentary. The Family

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This Changes Everything: The Struggle for Gender Parity in the Film Industry

Accomplished filmmaker Tom Donahue’s This Changes Everything covers the status quo of gender discrimination in the film industry. Despite a smattering of womens’ names in film and television credits, the gender gap is still very much with us. The impact is global. The resistance to reform is

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