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

A Will for the Woods

That documentary films are a hard-sell is common knowledge. Add films about death and dying, well, you’re in Sisyphus land. That’s where you’ll find filmmakers Amy Browne, Jeremy Kaplan, Tony Hale, and Brian Wilson, the co-directors of A Will for the Woods.a-will-for-the-woods-lrg4 Sex and violence. They’re no longer censored. Death

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Night Will Fall: Revealing Nazi Atrocities


Night Will Fall tells the chapter of the Holocaust about what happened when American and British forces discovered the death camps. It also tells the story of attempts to put a massive amount of film footage from that time and place into releasable form. The primary source material comes from raw footage taken at Bergen-Belsen, Dachau, and Auschwitz camps. The initial title of the attempted film was 'German Concentration Camps Factual Story'. Seventy years in the making, the Imperial War Museum restored the never-completed film, and released it with the never-before-seen sixth reel. The film's title derives from narration recor

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Exile Nation: Another Stop along Danté’s Travelling Inferno


Narrator Edward James Olmos introduces the film: “In the decade following the September eleventh attacks, the United States began a program of mass deportation. Estimates are between four to six million deported. Those hit hardest were Latinos, primarily Mexicans who make up 97% of those deported. Rejected by America, rejected by Mexico, they struggle to survive along the border.” Directed by Charles Shaw, and based on the work of the late Chris Brava and Jorge Nieto, Exile Nation: The Plastic People takes place in the ‘Zona Norte’ of Tijuana, Mexico. Mexicans deported by the United States to Mexico lose all their pape

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Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People


Inspired by Deborah Willis's book Reflections In Black: A History Of Black Photographers 1840 To The Present, Through a Lens Darkly tells the story of two American worlds: the African American and the Caucasian – as represented by photographers and their photographs. Writer/director/narrator Thomas Allen Harris refers to the ‘legacies’ of these two worlds when he comments, “How was, is, the photograph used in the battle between two legacies: Self-affirmation and negation. Our salvation – as a people, as a culture depends on salving the wounds of this war, a war of images within the American family album.” In still

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Movie Review: What’s in a Name?


Once-in-a-blue-moon I will review a narrative film. Written and directed by Alexandre de La Patellière and Matthieu Delaporte, What’s in a Name is a 2012 French comedy. I make this rare exception because this is one of the funniest </p ...Read More

Regarding Susan Sontag

Produced and directed by Nancy D. Kates, and premiered by HBO in December of 2014, Regarding Susan Sontag is a masterpiece of biographical documentary filmmaking. In less than two hours we are introduced to the life and character of Susan Sontag (1933-2004). RegardingSusanSontagWith respect and reverence, Kates’ filmmaking style mirrors Sontag’s

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Altina: The Life and Times of Altina Schinasi

Born in 1907, in New York City, Altina Schinasi was a sensational woman, a free spirit and a talented, prolific, innovative artist who deserves as much recognition for her contributions and courageous actions as history may spare. Directed by grandson Peter Sanders, the film tells Tina’s story from beginning through her passing in 1999. altinaWhen picking up a ‘biodoc,’ the firs

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Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead 2: More Juice from Joe Cross

Defying convention, Joe Cross has produced a documentary sequel. With 2010’s Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead Cross introduced his story-line of a successful Australian businessman who is overweight, suffering from an auto-immune disease and its attendant pharmaceuticals, and cruisin’ for a heart attack. He decides to go on a stint of joe_cross_afterconsuming onl

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InRealLife: The Downside of the Internet

With InRealLife accomplished filmmaker Beeban Kidron has made a powerful documentary highlighting the dark side of the confluence of the internet, children, and portable digital devices. She interviews teenagers about their use of the internet, and hears from authorities about the nature of this global network. Her journey of discovery takes her to Silicon Valley, and network hub points around the world. IRL ...Read More

Little White Lie: Lacey Schwartz Confronts Her Origin

Filmmaker Lacey Schwartz was raised in a Jewish, white, upper-middle-class home. Her dark skin was attributed to a Sicilian grandfather, but was actually the result of her mother’s affair with an African American. Little White Lie documents her childhood and her search for answers to her racial identity and her father’s identity. Lacey-2Schwartz weaves together a trove of

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