DER Documentary

An Act of Conscience

by Robbie Leppzer
color, 90 min, 1997



Non-profit, K-12, and Individual pricing also available
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How far are you willing to go to stand up for your deepest beliefs? For Randy Kehler and Betsy Corner of Colrain, Massachusetts, their life-long commitment to pacifism led them to risk losing their home. For fourteen years, they publicly refused to pay federal taxes as a protest against war and military spending. As a consequence, their home was seized by U.S. marshals and IRS agents.

Narrated by actor Martin Sheen, this feature-length documentary chronicles the couple's five-year struggle to nonviolently resist the seizure of their home, in which they are joined by hundreds of supporters from across the country, including noted author and activist priest Fr. Daniel Berrigan and long-time folksinger Pete Seeger.

When a young couple buys the contested home at auction from the U.S. government for $5,400, they become involved in a political and moral battle much larger than what they originally bargained for. An Act of Conscience provides a compelling and thought-provoking glimpse of the conflict between these two families: one couple reaching for the American dream, the other challenging the very foundation of that dream.

An Act of Conscience is one of the most deeply moving films I've seen in years. It's an anthem of praise— not just to a courageous couple, but to a beloved community that toughed it out against overwhelming odds and ultimately triumphed. Seeing this movie lifts your spirits, exhilarates, and offers hope.” — Studs Terkel, Author of Working, Hard Times, "The Good War", and Coming of Age
“In telling the story of two courageous people who were willing to sacrifice their home to declare their opposition to war and militarism, this engaging documentary reminds us of the long and honorable tradition of civil disobedience in this country. An Act of Conscience should serve as an inspiration to young people today in suggesting how one can live one's life in defiance of the violence around us.”
— Howard Zinn, Author of A People's History of the United States
“This brilliant documentary puts a human face on political protest through extraordinary acts by ordinary people. The film clearly shows the tension in American culture between commitment to self and family and a more universal sense of commitment to the world community. Never romanticized, An Act of Conscience shows the human costs and dilemmas of living by one's convictions.”
— Marty Haas, Professor of History, Adelphi University
“A balanced riveting story.” — Renee Graham, The Boston Globe
“A modern-day Thoreauvian stand-off.” — Kathleen Murphy, Film Society of Lincoln Center
“An exploration of conflicting beliefs, realities, and truths. The result is filmmaking that is both compelling and thought provoking.” — Geoff Gilmore, Director, Sundance Film Festival

This DVD is a part of Turning Tide: The Robbie Leppzer Collection

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
World Premiere, Sundance Film Festival, 1997

TV Broadcasts
Nationally Broadcast on Cinemax/HBO
Nationally Broadcast on Sundance Channel
Nationally Broadcast on Link TV
Nationally Broadcast on Free Speech TV

Related Resources
Turning Tide Productions

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The Peace Patriots
Little Injustices: Laura Nader Looks at the Law

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