The journalist as advocate and activist has rarely been contained in a more compelling package than Ruth Gruber. The subject of Robert Richman's nimble documentary blazed a trail in 1935 as the first reporter to tour the Soviet Arctic, and in 1947, she took photos on board the Exodus after it had been turned away from Palestine by the British. In 1944, Interior Secretary Harold Ickes chose her to escort a thousand Holocaust refugees across the Atlantic to safe haven in America. Ahead of Time finds the 97-year-old eager to share her life story, which began in Brooklyn and included a PhD earned at age 20 in Cologne. Richman films Gruber poring over her faded notebook from the 1944 voyage, wherein are transcribed testimonies that would reveal the truth about Nazi atrocities. A survivor of that passage reminisces: "It's like two people, one burns his hand and the other doesn't. You feel for this person who burned their hand, but you don't feel the burn. Ruth feels the burn."