Ahead of Time:
The Extraordinary Journey
of Ruth Gruber

USA, 2009, 73 minutes, Color
Directed by Bob Richman
Produced by Zeva Oelbaum  

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Public Exhibition Format: Beta, DVD

 As seen on Showtime and The Today Show

New York Times: "Ruth Gruber is remarkable... indefatigable... a riveting raconteur... an inspiration."

Time Out New York: "A case study in pioneering feminist courage."

Richard Holbrooke, Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan: "You could not invent Ruth Gruber... not even in a movie."

Short Synopsis

For seven decades foreign correspondent and photojournalist Ruth Gruber didn’t just report the news…she made it! Born in 1911 to Russian Jewish immigrants, Gruber reported from the Soviet Arctic, escorted Holocaust refugees on a secret war-time mission, and changed the world with dispatches from the Palestine-bound ship Exodus in 1947.


“I am experiencing that feeling of zest which goes with exploration. I am in the thick of an historic moment. I am in an era in the making…” - First lines of Ruth Gruber’s initial dispatch from the Soviet Arctic, 1935

Born in Brooklyn in 1911, Ruth Gruber became the youngest Ph.D. in the world before going on to become an international foreign correspondent and photojournalist at age 24. She emerged as the eyes and conscience of the world. With her love of adventure, fearlessness and powerful intellect, Ruth defied tradition in an extraordinary career that spanned more than seven decades.

The first journalist to enter the Soviet Arctic in 1935, Ruth also traveled to Alaska as a member of the Roosevelt administration in 1942, escorted Holocaust refugees to America in 1944, covered the Nuremberg trials in 1946 and documented the Haganah ship Exodus in 1947. Her relationships with world leaders including Eleanor Roosevelt, President Harry Truman, and David Ben Gurion gave her unique access and insight into the modern history of the Jewish people.

Through her own words and images, the film follows Ruth Gruber’s incredible journey as a student, a reporter, an activist leader and a prolific author. The film captures the drama of her life as she lent her camera lens – and her heart – to refugees of war. Ruth continues to travel all over the world re-connecting with many of the people who shared historic moments with her in Europe, in Israel, in the Arctic Tundra, in DP camps and refugee centers overseas and in the United States.


Audience Award, Teaneck International Film Festival 2011
Best Documentary, Miami Jewish Film Festival 2011
Best Documentary, Denver Jewish Film Festival 2011
Best Documentary, Berkshire International Film Festival 2010
Best Documentary, Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival 2010
The film was invited to participate in Project 20/20, a prestigious cultural exchange program, sponsored by the President’s Council for the Arts and Humanities.

Selected Screenings

Oregon Jewish Museum, 2016
Opening day for Ruth Gruber Photography Exhibit
Brooklyn College Library, 2015
Special guest Producer Patti Kenner;
Remarks by Brooklyn College President Karen L. Gould
JCC of Manhattan (NYC), 2014
Maine Jewish FIlm Festival, 2014
Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, 2014
Harrisburg Jewish Film Festival, 2012
Cape Ann Jewish Film Festival, 2012
Spokane Jewish Cultural Film Festival, 2012
Hartford Jewish Film Festival, 2012
NoVa International Jewish Film Festival, 2012
Sacramento Jewish Film Festival, 2012
East Bay International Jewish Film Festival, 2012
Mobile Jewish Film Festival, 2012
Virginia Peninsula Jewish Film Festival, 2012
Teaneck International Film Festival, 2011
Beth Tzedec Calgary Jewish Film Festival, Calgary, 2011
Free Thinking Film Festival, Ottawa, 2011
Jüdische Kulturwochen Frankfurt, 2011
San Antonio Jewish Film Festival, 2011
Berlin Jewish Film Festival, 2011
Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, 2011
Denver Jewish Film Festival, 2011
Toronto Jewish Film Festival, 2010
Munich Jewish Film Festival, 2010
Sarasota Film Festival, 2010
Santa Barbara International Film Festival, 2010
Seattle International Film Festival, 2010
Berkshire International Film Festival, 2010
Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, 2010
New York Jewish Film Festival, 2010
WORLD PREMIERE Toronto International Film Festival, 2009

Television Broadcast

YES TV (Israel)


Directed and photographed by Bob Richman
Produced by Zeva Oelbaum
Edited by Sabine Krayenbuhl
Executive Producers: Doris Schechter, Patti Kenner, Denise Benmosche, Henry Jarecki MD
Production Designer: Zeva Oelbaum
Composer: Ted Reichman
Original music composition over end credits: Reuben Chess, David Dawda
A Reel Inheritance Film Production
Voiceovers: Eli Wallach, Threse Plummer, Jody Shelton

Bob Richman, Director

Bob Richman began his career in film as a cinematographer working with the verite pioneers Albert and David Maysles. He recently won the Grand Jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival for Best Cinematography for The September Issue. His other credits as DP/cinematographer include Academy Award winner An Inconvenient Truth, Academy Award nominee My Architect, Metallica:Some Kind of Monster, and Paradise Lost:The Robin Hood Hills Child Murders. Richman was nominated for a Prime Time Emmy for Paradise Lost.

Zeva Oelbaum, Producer

Zeva Oelbaum is an award winning producer and the founder of Reel Inheritance Films. In addition to producing Ahead of Time, she has directed and produced short films which have screened at venues such as the International Center of Photography in New York. She was Executive Producer of Rene and I, a documentary film on twins Irene Hizme and Rene Slotkin who survived Josef Mengele at Auschwitz when they were only 6 years old.

Sabine Krayenbuehl, Editor

Sabine Krayenbuehl was nominated by the American Cinema Editors for an Eddie Award for My Architect. Her other documentary projects include Mad Hot Ballroom, The Bridge, and Picasso and Braque Go To The Movies, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

External Links

Official Website: ruthgruberthemovie.com

Ruth Gruber Interview on NBC's Today Show (March, 2011)

Press Kit (PDF)

Radio Interview with Ruth Gruber- NPR Weekend Edition (Oct. 15, 2011)

Film Review- St. Louis Jewish Light

Ruth Gruber Skype Interview with Circle Cinema

The New York Jewish Week: Being Ruth Gruber

The Jewish Chronicle: Descendants of Refugees Thank Gruber for her Efforts

International Center of Photography 2011 Ruth Gruber Photography Exhibition


Press Kit (PDF)

Home Use DVD: $29.95

Does not include Classroom or Library Use Rights or Public Performance Rights. More Information

Classroom/Library Use DVD: $295

Does not include Public Performance Rights. More Information

Digital Site Licensing (DSL) available - Contact us

Step down pricing for K-12 & public libraries may be available - Contact us

Arrange a screening - Contact us

Special Offer

Save 25% on Ahead of Time when you purchase it as part of the
New Films: Women's Studies 6 DVD Set
. More

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