Introducing Mister Pvris, the high-flying showman documenting his city's basketball scene.
The game of basketball is global, but on public outdoor courts in cities around the world, the code of streetball is very much local. Paris has its own exuberant style of play and this is exactly what 23-year-old filmmaker Lamine Conté—aka Mister Pvris—set out to showcase when he began documenting the scene in his home city. Filming from the sidelines, or while actually playing himself, Lamine bounces between casual games all over Paris, filming intimate and authentic moments that capture the sounds, the energy and the style of play of basketball in Paris, presenting an unfiltered portrait of community sport at a street level.
Taking a break between games at the Stalingrad court in the 19th Arrondissement, Lamine sits with his feet up on a park bench. Our conversation is regularly punctuated by players and passers-by stopping to greet him. Then he's off again. A new game is beginning.
Have you always been into basketball?
I used to exclusively play football back in the day. Even though the vast majority of my friends were playing basketball when we were in middle school, I always preferred football because I thought basketball was only for taller people and I was still very short back then. I only picked up the rock when I turned 14, and I've never been able to let it go. I was a late starter and a late bloomer. Not only did I join a team after everyone else, it took me forever to get the hang of it. I didn't find a coach who would bet on me until I turned 16. An ex-basketball player and local mentor, Mohammed, took me under his wing. Which is not easy when you are that old and that unskilled. But he must have seen something in my drive and my motivation. And that's the summer that changed everything for me. I became good enough to try my hand and travel to the US for summer camps and AAU basketball.
Tell us about your on-court style.
I'm more of an offensive player. Mid-range, three-pointers, drive, I like to do everything. I'm not too much of a defensive player. On the court, it's all business.
How'd you get into filming?
I wanted to document the competitive nature of basketball in the playground scene in Paris. It all started with me uploading a video where I dunk on an opponent and talk trash to him while running back up the court. The video went viral on Twitter, and my project became a reality overnight. I'm hardly a social media guy, but I had to create it all in a matter of days, from the logo to the name and the editorial choices. I decided I wanted players to be mic'd when I could, making the game more exciting. I am now on a mission to play as hard as I can, but more importantly, I will help document the game with as much excitement as I have for [playing] it. I bring that energy when I play, and I talk a lot of trash when I'm on the sidelines. If there is one thing that I have learnt while playing basketball in the United States, it's to always make sure people are being entertained.
"It all started with me uploading a video where I dunk on an opponent and talk trash to him while running back up the court".
Tell us about the Quai 54 street basketball tournament that Paris hosts every year.
Shout out to Hamadoune Sidibé for building the best street tournament in the world. The Quai 54 is a source of pride for any hooper from the city. The level is incredible, the atmosphere is out of this world and everybody knows it. I know the organisers, and Hamadoune is a cool guy, even though he believes I don't have a right hand. He's just a big trash talker. I will play at that tournament one day. It encompasses the spirit of the game the way we like it in Paris. It is high energy at all times, it's fun and the crowd is beautiful.