A fit­ting trib­ute to a true pi­o­neer

Los Angeles Times - - Movies - Gary Gold­stein

An in­spir­ing doc­u­men­tary about a re­mark­able woman, “Ahead of Time” deftly re­counts the ca­reer high­lights — and what high­lights they are! — of pi­o­neer­ing jour­nal­ist, hu­man­i­tar­ian and fem­i­nist Ruth Gru­ber, who turns 99-years-young next week. Di­rec­tor Bob Rich­man (cin­e­matog­ra­pher on such docs as “The Septem­ber Is­sue” and “An In­con­ve­nient Truth”) uti­lizes won­der­ful re­cent in­ter­views with the vi­tal, gen­tly charis­matic Gru­ber in con­cert with archival clips and rare pho­tos, many of which were shot by Gru­ber dur­ing her land­mark as­sign­ments.

The film fo­cuses on the Brook­lyn-born Gru­ber’s ear­lier suc­cesses, from earn­ing her doc­tor­ate at 20 to em­bark­ing on an il­lus­tri­ous run as a for­eign cor­re­spon­dent, re­port­ing from such farflung spots as Ger­many, the Soviet Arc­tic, Alaska and the Mid­dle East. What else? Gru­ber wit­nessed a Hitler rally, had tea with Vir­ginia Woolf, worked un­der FDR on a se­cret wartime mis­sion, cov­ered the Nurem­berg tri­als and doc­u­mented the Bri­tish at­tack on the Holo­caust refugee boat Ex­o­dus — all be­fore turn­ing 40.

Edi­tor Sabine Krayen­büehl mas­ter­fully jux­ta­poses footage of Gru­ber’s cur­rent vis­its to her var­i­ous stamp­ing grounds with erst­while footage of those same lo­ca­tions. And, al­though Gru­ber’s per­sonal life and lat­ter ac­com­plish­ments are ad­dressed via a few clos­ing sen­tences, “Ahead” re­mains a fleet and fit­ting trib­ute.

cal­en­dar@latimes.com

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