close icon

Completion   /  Margaret Murphy

Wandering Souls

A universal story of survival courage and the healing power of the arts.


Impact areas





  • DIRECTOR Aviva Ziegler

  • PRODUCER Margaret Murphy



Wandering Souls follows the mounting of a stage production, Bangsokol: A Requiem for Cambodia, culminating in its premiere performance at the Melbourne Festival. It is a first-time collaboration between 2 childhood survivors of Pol Pot, Cambodia’s composer Him Sophy and renowned filmmaker Rithy Pahn, in memory of nearly 2 million Cambodians who died during the Khmer Rouge regime. The film’s parallel narrative tells of survival of those involved in the creation of the work and shows the powerful will of the Cambodians to reclaim an artistic heritage that disappeared during the years of terror and destruction. With a libretto based on Bangsokol, the Khmer Buddhist ritual that allows the dead to move onto the next life, Him Sophy’s score is a unique combination of traditional Khmer instruments and vocalists together with Western chamber music and chorus. The film follows an international team working tirelessly with the Cambodian creators & musicians to pull the stage production together.

Support this project

33.48% funded
  • $205,000.00

  • $68,631.00

  • 4

Minimum amount is $ Maximum amount is $





Anonymous $250.00
Janet Mitchell $105.00
Robyn Attuell $125.00

Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

The film follows the mounting of Cambodia’s first major symphonic work Bangsokol: A Requiem for Cambodia created to address the traumas suffered at the hands of the communist Khmer Rouge regime during the 1970s. It tells an important, universal story of a society confronting its devastating past while trying to rebuild the artistic and culture life that virtually disappeared with the death of nearly two million Cambodians.

A stage production is only there as long as it is seen in the theatre. This documentary is a lasting record of the production and the survival stories of the artists involved in making it.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

To remind viewers of the impact of war and genocide on a country’s future generations.
To reinforce the power of the arts as a positive means to healing after the devastation of war.
To show how a nation can rebuild a lost cultural heritage through perseverence and determination to overcome what has been lost.
Through community screenings and related support groups, the film will become a resource for encouraging discussion and healing.


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

Our primary aim is to raise awareness of the very recent history of Cambodia and to fully understand why the west needed to accept the wave of Cambodians driven to escape. But equally important is the need to draw attention to an ongoing situation with refugees today who are still escaping terrible regimes that have set out to destroy their traditional values and culture.

The documentary explains the importance of cultural heritage and artistic endeavors to restoring the balance of a nation devastated by war.

Cambodia is a destination for many of the world’s tourists, including Australians. This film helps to explain the suffering and turmoil of today’s population and the importance of art as an advocate for peace and reconciliation.


How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

By as wide a distribution as possible through community groups, educational institutions, broadcasters, conferences and film festivals. The few screenings we have had so far have provided us with extremely positive feedback regarding the importance of keeping this subject in the front of people’s minds.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

The film premiered at the Cambodian International Film Festival in March 2019. Cambodian Living Arts were so impressed that they are helping us to obtain more international screenings.
SBS has licenced the documentary for On Demand and 2 main channel runs.
The International Association of Genocide Scholars after viewing the film, asked for it to be included in their program at the annual conference in July 2019. The Annual International Conference of the Royal Geographical Society are screening it in London in August 2019.

The film will be screened at the Margaret Mead Festival in New York, October 2019

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

Be inspired to learn more about the history of South East Asia and the role Australia played in the UN peace plan for Cambodia.
1. The film will be used in educational institutions to raise awareness, to discuss the outcomes of genocide and to encourage students to seek out more information.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

Distribution and viewer ratings.
The demand from educational to screen the film.