Saturday, December 9, 2023

Paul Coll, Gregory Gaultier, Tinne Gilis and Melissa Alves take to the screen to promote Open de France in Nantes

Warehouse dance video and ongoing mystery around the venue create superb media campaign for Nantes  
By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor)

It might not win an Oscar, but the brilliant promotional video for the French Open in Nantes deserves recognition as star players Paul Coll and Gregory Gaultier, with Tinne Gillis and Melissa Alves in supporting roles, take to the screen

The theme is reminiscent of West Side Story as a dance scene involves two street gangs confronting each other inside a disused warehouse.

The two gang leaders appear to be Coll and Gaultier. A small boy peeps round the door as the action unfolds and the whole atmosphere changes when he throws a white squash ball into the dark, post-industrial landscape.

Immediately the protagonists’ faces are lit up with smiles as squash rackets emerge.

The video is the creation of the multi-talented Yohann Grignou.

According to the tournament’s production director Natacha Godel: “Faithful to its hybrid culture and sport identity, the Open de France is teaming up for this second season with Yohann Grignour, a director, cameraman, drone operator and editor.

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“Yohann actively creates in the field of dance, sport, exploration and urban arts. The collaboration was obvious!”

Grignour said: “This event is the materialisation of everything I love: a subtle mix between sport and art.

“This alliance is my favourite playground to express my poetry. It was a real pleasure to work with this team!”

Could the warehouse be the venue for the tournament? That remains a mystery despite tickets going on sale for the sixth professional squash event in Nantes from September 12-17.

In a collaboration between squash and the cultural heart of Nantes, previous events have taken place on stage in a theatre and inside the grounds of a huge chateau.

This year organisers are teasing the public by keeping the identity of the venue a secret until the tournament takes place.

Natacha added: “The secret venue this year intrigues both squash professionals and the public. So far the public are playing the game!

“Player registrations has started with enthusiasm: the international fame of this unique event is making a lot of noise around the world.

“Each player who has participated in the past wishes to return and says of Nantes that there is no equivalent atmosphere elsewhere. And those who have never come are very intrigued by this Nantes experience.”

French star Camille Serme, who won at the Château des ducs de Bretagne in 2019 and who last week announced her retirement from playing, is a big fan of the Nantes tournament, saying: “A crazy atmosphere with this incredible audience, even from the first rounds! I had never experienced this before!”

Camille herself was involved in a social media campaign last week, promising another new event in France with the glass court being staged close to the Eiffel Tower.

And Gregory Gaultier was also heavily involved in the promotion of the recent Necker Open in Mauritius.

France is right now adding huge dollops of creative energy to the process of promoting squash.

Long may it continue.


Pictures courtesy of Open de France, Nantes and @Samouraï Coop 


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