Film screening information

If you have pre-registered to view the screening of this film you will have received a private link via email. If you have not received this link please email or DM us on social media @derryvoid on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Thank you.

Derry Radical Bookfair has partnered with Void Gallery for a special Preview Screening of Bring Down The Walls – a new film by the artist Phil Collins.

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Bring Down The Walls trailer

Over the last four decades the prison population in the US has soared to more than 2 million. Through privatisation and disproportionate targeting of people of colour, the marginalised and the poor, the justice system has been used as a tool of oppression and the source of corporate profit. Today, ‘the land of the free’ is the world’s biggest jailer. Coinciding with the escalation of mass incarceration in the 1980s, a new dance culture emerged from Black, Latinx and Queer communities embattled by the criminal and law enforcement policies. Bring Down The Walls looks at the US prison industrial complex 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 the director Phil Collins worked with a group of men incarcerated at Sing Sing, a maximum-security prison in upstate New York. After access was revoked, he recorded a compilation of house classics with vocalists who have formerly been incarcerated, and in 2018 set up a communal space in the heart of Manhattan’s court district dedicated to the struggle for social justice and prison abolition. During the day, discussions were led by people who have been directly impacted by the system, and those working to radically change or abolish it. At night, the space transformed into a dance party hosted by collectives from New York City’s vibrant club scene. Bringing these strands together, Bring Down The Walls reflects a coexistence of two fields of knowledge; the political/academic and the physical/experiential – one born out of education, advocacy and activism, the other through sharing time, space, and energy – proposing the dance floor as a site of personal and collective liberation and new ways in which we could come together as a society.

This online screening is free, but booking is essential. Bookings can be made via Eventbrite.

The film will be available online 7-12pm, Saturday 30th January.

The screening will be available on Please note: it only can be viewed from IP addresses in the UK and Ireland.

Void Gallery are delighted to be working again with Phil Collins, who exhibited at the gallery in 2013 with his show titled This Unfortunate Thing Between Us. Find out more about this exhibition by visiting this link.

Press quotes:

“Powerfully illustrates the freedom and joy of nightlife against the brutality of the prison industrial complex.” – BFI

“A politically engaged and original documentary about the deregulation of American prison policy and the development of house music.” – Cineuropa

“The film is just too good, and its points too forceful, to leave only good intentions on display. Its cinematic devices are formidable, with editing which alternates between scenes of day and night, words and music.” – Vice

“A hopeful montage of provocative thought, heart-breaking anecdotes and graceful dance moves.” — Little White Lies

“A bold, humanistic film asking for change in one of America’s most contentious institutions. There are voices that deserve to be heard, and Collins’ film gives them a platform with style.” — Slacker Cinema

Reading Lists


The screening is accompanied by a set of reading lists on prison abolition and prison struggle from radical, independent publishers. Please find details and a link to download them below:

Reading List #1 – PM Press

Reading list #2 – Shady Lane Productions

Reading list #3 – Haymarket

Reading list #4 – Phil Scraton


This screening is presented by Void Gallery in partnership with Derry Radical Bookfair and Shady Lane Productions.


Image 4 caption

Phil Collins

Bring Down The Walls, 2020

Colour, sound; 88 min.

Courtesy Shady Lane Productions

Photo: Mel D. Cole

Image description: The photo frames two people of colour on a dance floor. Their faces are relaxed, their arms are extended and their bodies are close to one another as they dance.