Bring Down The Walls
Bring Down The Walls looks at the prison industrial complex in the US through the lens of house
music and nightlife.
The connection between a system that locks the body up and music that sets it free comes from
the years in which Phil Collins worked with a group of men incarcerated at Sing Sing, a maximum-
security prison in upstate New York. After the prison administration revoked access, the filmmaker
re-formulated the project and in 2018 organised a public event held every weekend in May at a
historic firehouse in the heart of Manhattan’s court district. During daytime, the space hosted
educational programmes, and at night it transformed into a nightclub. The third strand of the project
is a soundtrack featuring covers of classic house anthems, recorded with vocalists who have
formerly been incarcerated.
The film moves between discussions on the origins of the penitentiary system, the abolition of
prisons and bail, and the challenges of re-entry; footage from Sing Sing; and immersive club
scenes which accompany music tracks from the album.
Reflecting a coexistence of two fields of knowledge, the political/academic and the
physical/experiential—one born out of education, advocacy and activism, and the other through
sharing time, space and energy—Bring Down The Walls proposes the dance floor as a real and
metaphorical space of personal and collective liberation, and new ways in which we could come
together as a society.
Phil Collins is a filmmaker and visual artist based in Berlin and Wuppertal. He is Professor of Video and Performance at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne.
Previous films include Ceremony (2018), Delete Beach (2016), Tomorrow Is Always Too Long (2014), The Meaning of Style (2011), Marxism Today (prologue) (2010), Soy mi madre (2008), Zašto ne govorim srpski (na srpskom) (2008), Baghdad Screentests (2002), and How to Make a Refugee (1999).
- PRODUCTION : Siniša Mitrović (Shady Lane Productions)