The movie

Music Film Festival: Play with the Devil

Zeal & Ardor is an avant-garde metal band founded and led by Afro-American-Swiss musician Manuel Gagneux. The band made their international debut in Tilburg in 2017 at the Roadburn festival. Now there comes the documentary.

Length: 72 min
Language spoken: Engels, Zwitser-Duits
Language subtitles: Engels
Director: Olivier Joliat
Release date: 2023


Zeal & Ardor was once intended to be a one-off project on the Internet. The band has now released three albums and tours the world successfully every year. The group is celebrated as one of the most progressive metal bands. Front man and founder Manuel Gagneux mixes old slave songs with black metal. It is his response to the racism he faces on a daily basis and contains political dynamite.

In the documentary ‘Play With The Devil’ by Olivier Joliat and Matthias Willi, the musical development of Zeal & Ardor from living room project to internationally acclaimed live band is clearly highlighted. The film shows how Gagneux questions and breaks taboos with his music. It also reveals how being hailed as a new kind of leader by his fans terrifies the introverted artist. How does he deal with the high expectations?

After the film screening, the Swiss directors Olivier Joliat and Matthias Willi will participate in the Q&A with the audience. Olivier Joliat is himself a musician, journalist and filmmaker of various short films. ‘Play with the Devil’ is his first feature film. Matthias Willi is a photographer and filmmaker in Basel. He previously made a documentary about singer/songwriter Anthony Thomas.