A sibling survivor story of uncommon personal and political breadth, docudrama “Escape to Life” charts the tumultuous lives of Erika and Klaus Mann, talented, gay eldest siblings of German literary titan Thomas Mann. Item’s pedigree — Andrea Weiss co-directed “International Sweethearts of Rhythm” with co-producer and non-profit Jezebel Films partner Greta Schiller, while Wieland Speck helmed “Westler: East of the Wall” and programs Berlin fest’s Panorama section — will ensure popularity at gay and lesbian festivals, with a possible theatrical window in specialty situations and vigorous life on cable and homevid.
Actually born a year apart, sibs often referred to themselves as twins and depended on each other for support not forthcoming from famous dad, whom they nicknamed “The Magician.” Pic charts the creatively and politically fertile lives of both against the backdrop of mid-century global uncertainty and their subsequent permanent exiles, moving from their stage, screen and literary successes (title comes from their 1939 book) to estrangement. Tech credits are fine, with dramatic segs illustrating Klaus’ life bridging period footage. Narration is culled from their work and read in English and German by Vanessa Redgrave/Barbara Nusse and Corin Redgrave/Ulrich Matthes.