An affecting portrait of an inspiring woman.

An affecting portrait of an inspiring woman, fine docu “Ahead of Time” situates journalist, author and humanitarian Ruth Gruber in the historical record. Wisely letting his lively, articulate nonagenarian subject narrate her life story through interviews and lectures, debuting director Bob Richman (a noted indie cameraman) compellingly blends a plethora of choice archival materials and contempo footage. This Jewish-interest crowdpleaser should shine on the fest and alternative circuit before reaching wider auds in ancillary.

Born in Brooklyn in 1911, Gruber completed graduate studies in Germany to become the world’s youngest PhD at the age of 20. As a foreign correspondent and photographer (for outlets including the New York Herald Tribune, New York Post and Life magazine), she provided groundbreaking coverage from the Soviet Arctic, Middle East and Nuremberg trials. Never just a journalist, she worked for the Roosevelt administration in Alaska in 1941, and escorted 1,000 Holocaust refugees from Naples to New York in a 1944 secret wartime mission. Later, her eyewitness dispatches on the plight of the passengers from the Exodus 1947 helped arouse the conscience of the world. Masterful editing leads the tidy production package.

Ahead of Time


A Reel Inheritance Films, PDD production. (International sales: Submarine Entertainment, New York.) Produced by Zeva Oelbaum. Executive producers, Patti Kenner, Doris Schechter, Denise Benmosche. Directed by Bob Richman.


Camera (color/B&W, HD), Richman; editor, Sabine Krayenbuhl, music, Ted Reichman. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Real to Reel), Sept. 12, 2009. English, Hebrew dialogue. Running time: 73 MIN.


Ruth Gruber, Dava Sobel, Harold M. Ickes, Manya Hartmayer Breuer, Ike Aronowitz, Mordechai Rossmann.
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