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.
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.
Toni Strasburg was born in South Africa and was exiled to Britain in 1965. She studied at London University and worked in various jobs before becoming a filmmaker. She has documented apartheid-era wars in southern Africa concentrating largely on the effects on women and children. Her award-winning films include Chain of Tearsand its sequel, Chain of Hope, The Other Bomb, An Act of Faith and A South African Love Story. She served an International Peace Monitor and Election Observer for the United Nations and has run training workshops and consulted to UNESCO and other NGO’s in southern Africa.
“An eye opener! Not much is known about what transpired on the ground in our neighbouring countries during apartheid. This memoir tears into your comfort zone by means of the crackling story behind fluent documentaries on these places and times. Some of the details make your hair stand on end!”
It gave me a powerful sense of life in the Frontline States: the difficulties as well as the pleasures at a moment when the future of South Africa was still in the balance. At the same time it highlighted the emotional experiences of a woman facing her own challenges in the male world of documentary film making . Toni Bernstein has integrated complex and difficult themes into a well written and fascinating account of her unique experiences in a time of personal and social conflict.