Rescued from the streets of Yangon as a boy, Zawana is now an adolescent living in a rural monastery in Myanmar. Though his abbot U Dahma has become ill and the monastery, like the surrounding community, fallen into victim to poverty and hardship, Zawana is in the midst of a crisis of faith— he remains unsure whether the path of the monk is right for him. Temptation arrives in the form of a local girl, as do modern conveniences like a borrowed MP3 player. Meanwhile Zawana becomes responsible for taking the man who rescued him back to the bright lights of contemporary Yangon.
The Monk is a naturalistic meditation on identity, existence and faith inside the rarely-seen, hermetic world of Myanmar, shown through the eyes of a young man on the brink of adulthood. The first independent feature from Myanmar in 50 years, Maw Naing's feature film debut premiered at Karlovy Vary, Jihlava, Sakhalin and Singapore.