AN ACT OF CONSCIENCE
Standing Up For Your Beliefs Begins At Home
World Premiere, Sundance Film Festival
Nationally Broadcast on HBO/Cinemax, Sundance Channel, Link TV and Free Speech TV
Narrated by Martin Sheen
Directed by Robbie Leppzer
90 minutes • 1997/2021 Digitally Remastered HD Version • Closed Captions
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.
The film includes a brief history of war tax resistance in America from the colonial era to Henry David Thoreau to the Vietnam War.
"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
"AN ACT OF CONSCIENCE is the crown jewel in my American Studies class unit about Henry David Thoreau and the Transcendental movement. The film places the sentiments expressed in Thoreau’s essay "Civil Disobedience" in a contemporary context easily accessible to today’s high school students."
—Rembert Briggs, English Teacher, Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School, Hyde Park, NY
"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
"A balanced riveting story."
—Renee Graham, THE BOSTON GLOBE
"A modern-day Thoreauvian stand-off."
—Kathleen Murphy, FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER
"A compelling story of American dreams realized, lost, and questioned."
—Robin Caudell, PRESS-REPUBLICAN
"A thoughtful, thought-provoking film that succeeds largely because it doesn’t attempt to provide easy answers for difficult moral questions. It simply informs the viewer and demands that one wrestle with those tough questions personally."
—Sean Glennon, VALLEY ADVOCATE
RECOMMENDED SUBJECT AREAS
Political Science • Sociology • Peace Studies • American Studies • Communication • Philosophy • Politics & Government • Politics of Peace and Conflict • Contemporary Social Movements • Human Rights • Social Change • Documentary Film Studies • Media and Contemporary Culture • Politics and International Law • Modern Political Thought • Philosophy of Nonviolence • Henry David Thoreau