Fractured Lives is a memoir of one woman’s experiences as a documentary filmmaker covering the wars in southern Africa during the 1980s and 1990s. Growing up in South Africa in a politically active family, as daughter of Rivonia Trialists, Hilda and Rusty Bernstein, Toni became a filmmaker in exile in the wake of the Rivonia Trial. Interweaving autobiography, history and social commentary with frontline reporting, it offers a personal female perspective on a traditionally male subject.
Despite the constant difficulties of finding funding and commissions from television broadcasters she made several remarkable films across the Frontline States – Angola, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe- witnessing and recording the silent victims of war. Fractured Lives describes the changing landscape of southern Africa as Namibian independence and the end of the war in Mozambique bring hope – but also despondency. In its final chapters, Fractured Lives tells how people can survive the most desperate of odds and begin anew. Devastated towns slowly rebuild and normal human activity returns to scarred villages.
Fractured Lives concludes with Toni’s return to South Africa after nearly three decades in exile. However, the joy of liberation is tempered by the poignancy of returning to a place that for so long had existed in her dreams alone and the realization that home will forever lie somewhere else.