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What These Walls Won't Hold

  • Adamu Chan, Director
  • Christian Lee Collins, Producer

Man in blue prison shirt with a long sleeve olive green shirt underneath. Man has short brown hair. Standing in a prison yard.

About the Project

Set against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic at San Quentin State Prison, What These Walls Won’t Hold chronicles the organizing and relationships of people who came together beyond the separations created by incarceration, to respond to this crisis. Filmmaker Adamu Chan, who was incarcerated at San Quentin during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, documents his path through incarceration and beyond.

Adamu Chan, Director

Adamu Chan is a filmmaker, writer, and community organizer from the Bay Area who was incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison during one of the largest COVID-19 outbreaks in the country. He produced numerous short films while incarcerated, using his vantage point and experience as an incarcerated person as a lens to focus the viewer’s gaze on issues related to social justice. In 2021, he was a recipient of the "Docs in Action Film Fund" (through Working Films), and was tapped to produce and direct his film, 'What These Walls Won't Hold.' Adamu is currently working on the doc-series 'Bridge Builders', partnering with ITVS. He is also a 2022 Stanford University Center for the Comparative Studies of Race and Ethnicity Mellon Arts Fellow. Adamu draws inspiration and energy from the voices of those directly impacted, and seeks to empower them to reshape the narratives that have been created about them through film.


Christian Lee Collins, Producer

Christian Lee Collins is an editor, cinematographer and producer. He received a Master of Journalism degree at UC Berkeley in 2020, reporting on mass incarceration and the pandemic. Since then, he has worked on productions for HBO Max, Netflix and Viceland. His award winning documentary, FITE (2017), is currently screening in prisons across California. Presently, he serves as a producer on a documentary about the COVID-19 outbreak in San Quentin State Prison titled WHAT THESE WALLS WON'T HOLD. In addition, he is working on Jessie Deeter’s HOOF DREAMS, a feature- length documentary set to premiere in 2023.