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Searching for Frogs (2024)

Searching for Frogs

Exploring the Karen Maw Nay Pwar people and their frog drum in Myanmar


The ‘Maw Nay Pwar’ are a sub-group of the Karen who live in Myanmar. Their lives are shaped by a firm belief in animism and a number of unique rituals focusing on the ‘frog drum’, which they revere as a sacred object. This film portrays one of just a handful of remaining villages that are home to this particular group; beautifully observed, the documentary captures their distinct, if sadly dwindling cultural practices.

Director's Statement

As a Karen ethnic born in Yangon, I was curious to know more about the diverse groups of Karen who are living in remote parts of the state. The Maw Nay Pwar people are the last remaining representatives of their tribe and Saw Maw Hel Bwal, who features in the film, is the last living shaman familiar with their rituals and music. The Maw Nay Pwar live in the mountains between Karen and Myanmar military bases; the resurgence of conflict following the Myanmar military coup of 2021 made travel in this region even more difficult. The journey there was long and arduous, but no sooner did I arrive than the whole village welcomed me into their homes, even with my camera. What struck me about these incredible people was their lack of avarice, their sense of community and identity, and their determination to preserve their culture and traditions no matter what.

Director's Biography

Aye Nilar Kyaw is Karen (Kayin) and a Christian. She took up a distance learning degree in law at West Yangon University in 2012 and worked in various jobs, also volunteering for NGO Vision Trust Myanmar, before enrolling at YFS in 2016 where she worked on several films as editor, cinematographer and sound designer (Through Thick and Thin). Child of the Revolution, which received the 2017 Goethe Institut Myanmar Jade Documentary Award, was her first film as both director and cinematographer. Made with support from YFS, her 2023 film Searching for Frogs takes us to a village inhabited by the Maw Nway Bwar who are the last people in Myanmar to practice rituals around the ‘frog drum’.

Director's Filmography

Searching for Frogs












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