Sundance: 'Ask Dr. Ruth' Director Says Documentary "Is Like a 'Forrest Gump'-Style Story"

The doc follows 90-year-old sex therapist Ruth Westheimer, tracing her life from Holocaust survivor to beloved media figure.

At age 90, Ruth Westheimer is plenty busy, what with teaching at Columbia University, writing a new edition of her definitive Sex for Dummies and starring in commercials for products like Sling TV.

So when producer Rafael Marmor called and asked her to collaborate on a documentary, the pint-sized sex therapist with a thick German accent said, “No thank you. I’ve had many, many offers, and I’m so busy,” she recalls.

But Marmor had a plan to team Westheimer with Emmy-nominated director Ryan White (The Case Against 8), so the feminist trailblazer who prides herself on “doing my homework” binge-watched White’s docu­series The Keepers and decided to participate in Ask Dr. Ruth, which made its world premiere Jan. 25. (Submarine has sold all North American rights to Hulu, which hired Magnolia to release it in theaters before the streaming window.)

“This is like a Forrest Gump-style story,” says White of his protagonist, a Holocaust survivor whose parents perished in the Nazi death camps. “She’s intersected with so many important parts of world history that I don’t know if there’s another living person who has such a remarkable story.”

And though it’s easy to find many pictures of Westheimer with fellow ’80s icon Donald Trump, the naturalized U.S. citizen refuses to weigh in on the president or his immigration policies.

“I don't answer anything in politics. I vote. Every single opportunity since I became an American citizen. However, I'm very upset when I see pictures of children being taken from their parents, because that reminds me of [when] my mother and grandmother brought me to the railroad station for the Kindertransport,” she says. “But somebody who talks about sex has to stay away from politics.”

And with that, Dr. Ruth launches into her advice for achieving the best possible orgasm.

“Do not engage in sex [only] at night, but in the morning too. Go to the bathroom, have a little breakfast, and go back to bed, because the erection for men is easier in the morning,” she says. “Also, it's not true that women don't like to have sex in the morning after a good night’s sleep.”

A version of this story first appeared in the Jan. 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.