An Act of Conscience

Director: Robbie Leppzer
Screenwriters: Sara Elinoff, Robbie Leppzer

Institute History

  • 1997 Sundance Film Festival


An Act of Conscience is a film that depicts the significance and devotion of a life of long moral and political commitment and the contradictions that impact any act of political resistance, especially in this day and age. It is essentially the story of a couple who have for many years refused to pay their federal income taxes as a protest against war and military spending. After they are singled out by the IRS, presumably in part because of their visibility and public activism, their home is seized by federal marshals. They and a group of supporters occupy the premises while they fight in court the legality of such actions. But when the government auctions off their home and a working-class couple move in and staunchly defend both their actions and their new home, a complicated and fascinating battle ensues.

We’ve often witnessed the depiction of heroic acts against governments and/or monolithic institutions, but An Act of Conscience is engrossing particularly because it is not simply a story of moral activism but an exploration of conflicting beliefs, realities, and truths. Filmmaker Robbie Leppzer is remarkably sensitive regarding the nuances of his subject matter and protagonists. The result is filmmaking that is both compelling and thought provoking.

Narrated by Martin Sheen, An Act of Conscience is a profile of both those who desire to realize the American Dream and those who question the fundamental values of a society that gives that myth its foundation. Its voices are personal and often profound, offering a range of insights into the quest for fulfillment of our hopes and dreams.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details


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