Just after you sent off the email which said the Flausfilm was complete and told people how to obtain a free copy, one of the first people to respond was Solrun, who was at Swinburne doing the Post Grad Film course in 1980, which was very early in my period as Lecturer, though I was not in charge of her group, that was Nigel Buesst's responsibility. However we had a great deal of interaction with each other's students, and I had a fair bit of to-ing and fro-ing with Solrun during that year, and found her to be a really lovely gentle person with a deep interest in film and a particular emphasis on Asia, which at that time was focussed on Japan.
Many years passed and in the last year or two of my time at the VCA I ran a "Doco Club", in partnership with Megan Spencer, and in the course of showing films by interesting doco producers from around the world, we included work of many locals, one of whom was Solrun. She presented her "Pyongyang Diaries", preceded by a few shorter films including one I particularly asked for, "Effacement", a quiet, beautiful, reflective piece which I thought had a special quality
So we re-connected when she asked for a copy of Flausfilm. After a bit of time wasted getting addresses etc, I sent her a copy and she sent me a copy of "Rushing to Sunshine".
I had invited Solrun to re-connect as in "chatting" but she wrote
I'm just going through some health issues at the moment and not up to much chatting for the time being, but I will get in touch.
Then I looked at "Rushing to Sunshine" and sent off a long email which began like this:-
Rushing to Sunshine
thanks very much for your video (I was going to say film, but...)
I really like your approach, your gentle investigative style, especially the personal quality of the work, putting yourself in the centre as the inquisitive recordist of your trip/project.
I suppose I have always steered clear of the Korean nightmare, except for little bursts in our media, so I would say it is one of the parts of the world that I know very little about, except from what you have shown me in this and your previous work.
Then I asked a lot of questions about how much exposure this and other films like "Pyongyang Diaries" had achieved. Solrun responded with a long email which included her responses to Flausfilm, but this is what she had to say in answer to my questions concerning exposure of her work
Thanks for your comments on this. It has rarely been screened in Australia and sadly I could get no TV sales. Had little funding and took out a mortgage to finish, for which I am paying now.
But it had support from Korea and premiered there and was invited to a major festival in Seoul in 2006, where I realized it is now a valuable archival film of a very special period of great optimism and activism, which is since gone. It will take a very long time for the two to be reunited, as no one wants the North to collapse. But there is so much more contact now between them.
My previous one from the North, 'Pyongyang Diaries' was also rejected for presales and even after completion, then got into Berlin and the ABC belatedly bought it and screened once at 9.30 on a Monday night. But it has sold around the world and been to numerous film festivals. I have a distrib for both in the US and of course Ronin here.
Then she completes the email with the following:-
If I haven't got into a dialogue, and am not likely to now, it is because I am dealing with a serious health issue, and waiting to get an operation to remove a tumour.
Thanks for your response. Let's start with your last point first. I'm very sorry to hear you are having a health problem and wish you the very best outcome possible.
at the end of the email I added...
So my dear Solrun, don't feel any pressure from me concerning dialogue. Whenever you feel like it, I would be happy to chat with you. In the meantime I just wish you the very very best.
The very next day after this last exchange I received the news from Bill that Solrun had passed away. I don't know if Solrun received or read my return email, and I guess I will never know the answer to that question.
So Bill, that was when I emailed you saying it was extremely upsetting, and really, despite knowing Solrun was facing an operation, it's still a shock to me this morning.
I guess I felt that as she had the energy and went to the considerable effort of writing a nice response to the Flausfilm, and also answering questions regarding the distribution of her Korean docs, I was really expecting her to undergo (what I knew from the little she'd said) a serious operation, but nevertheless one with full expectation of recovery.
What can we do now? Only hope that Solrun's work which is her legacy, will continue to be shown.
Even perhaps on Australian TV.
Many thanks Bill, for keeping your Independent Website active for all of us.