A fitting tribute to a true pioneer
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.