From the Plateau to Hong Kong

On April 6, 2018 a group of 10 employees of Norlha travelled for the first time beyond the Plateau to Hong Kong to attend the premiere of the film Ritoma རུ་སྟོད་མ།, produced and directed by the Oscar winning Ruby Yang.

Ruby first came to Ritoma in 2012, and made a beautiful 12 minute film on Norlha. In 2016, she was back, her visit coinciding with a basketball tournament between teams from all over the area, hosted in Ritoma. It was then that she decided to make another film highlighting the unique life in the village through the window of basketball.

For the 7 men and 3 women, all members of Norlha’s basketball team, it was a three-dimensional experience; artisanship, basketball and seeing a new world for the first time. Having never flown before, some found it to be a terrifying experience, though air travel was not the first surprise; coming from the plateau, a place of infinite space where pasture and green hills meet the horizon, they found the beehive of Hong Kong daunting. ‘So many people in such concentration! I felt so small!’ some said trying to describe the experience. For people living as far inland as the Tibetan Plateau, it was a revelation seeing the ocean for the first time.

The players from Ritoma are all skilled artisans; weavers, tailors and dyers. Making a Norlha scarf or textile requires teamwork, just like basketball, and for this reason, the sport came naturally to all of them. The trip was a unique experience and a two way one. They discovered Hong Kong while the world discovered them through Ruby’s stunning film.

Photos courtesy of Bradley Aaron