From Herding to Basketball: Documentary Ritoma on Modern Life in Tibetan Village

Why We Recommend it

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ruby Yang captures how Tibetan villagers navigate the collision of tradition and modernity, and how basketball influences life and gender norms in their community.


Tibetan nomads have been herders for hundreds of years, but modernity has worked its way into this community slowly, and it has taken its toll on their traditional way of life.

With diminishing grasslands, falling livestock prices, smaller families, and more children attending school, managing a large herd is impossible. Many nomads are leaving the grasslands, struggling at this time of transition to keep their culture alive while also embracing the modern world. 

In the settlement of Ritoma, social enterprise and textile workshop Norlha employs former nomads and monks to create yak-wool scarves. A few years ago, the workshop built a basketball court and set up a team for their employees. The new game has proved to be incredibly popular, especially with the men, who take to the court every day at lunchtime and after work.

And now that they have their first coach, a former college basketball player hailing from the US, women are also starting to play, helping herald the erosion of long-dominant patriarchal values and a new beginning for the women of Ritoma.

Directed and produced by Hong Kong-born filmmaker Ruby Yang, Ritoma (Tibet/Hong Kong, 2018) is a 57-minute-long film documenting the changes that occurred in the village over the course of two years.

The documentary will be screened at Asia Society Hong Kong, followed by a Q&A session with Yang, basketball coach Willard Johnson and Jampa Dhundup, a former nomad and the captain of the basketball team members.


When: 28 Jun 2018 - 28 Jun 2018 Where: Asia Society – Asia Society Hong Kong center, 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty – Central