A Documentary Film by Kirk Bennett


Hear their stories, see their world, then ...

 taste YOUR freedom.


Montreal Director of TASTE YOUR FREEDOM, Kirk Bennett, creates an eye opening film about the triumphs and tragedies of life on the streets of Montreal and in hidden places in order to expose the struggles and resources of poverty.  Spanning ten years the documentary exposes the development of an increasing human tragedy affecting every community.

Please note: Due to a technical issue BLOG entries have been lost and are in the process of being recovered for 2017.

12-17-2013 - Updated 12-17-2016

Taste Your Freedom

I have been overwhelmed by the sheer number of entities requesting exposure in the film and reassured that the messages Taste Your Freedom aims to convey will certainly be brought to the screen. 

The need for contributions to shelters, food-banks and other resources is greater than ever and the number of homeless steadily increases so I ask you all once again this Christmas season to please find it in your hearts to help all you can so that those suffering the ravages and hardships of poverty might find a helping hand.

As production continues the web site will be upgraded and I will be able to update the BLOG on an ongoing basis again.


CKUT Homeless Marathon - 11th edition

Concordia University's radio station CKUT holds a 12 hour sundown to sunup radio marathon each year to stimulate awareness of the issues that surround homelessness and life in the streets.  Each year many radio stations join forces to participate in this highly valuable event as they simulcast the show with interviews and a call-in.

Click here to see a short clip from Taste
Your Freedom coverage of the Homeless Marathon's 7th annual event:

Today the 11th edition of the
Homeless Marathon is being broadcast via the airwaves and internet.  You can listen in beginning at 17:00 hrs. Eastern time (-5 hrs GMT) at the links listed here.


www.mediacoop.ca (for the national and local Montreal marathon streams)

www.ckut.ca (for the Montreal local marathon)


Dangerously cold again

Prompted by the extreme cold Montreal is currently experiencing, I today recounted the following ...

While out filming a couple of winters ago in these temperatures I saw a man standing in front of the AMC Forum (formerly the Montreal Forum), poorly dressed, and literally freezing to death. He was so cold he could not move, not one bit. Thankfully security from inside the building had noticed him standing there for a time and called police who were on the spot. The man already visibly had frostbite, no hat no mittens, no scarf, but could not be moved. The cop told me that it would be dangerous to try to move him inside immediately and that an ambulance was on the way. It was scary to see someone at the edge of life and death. When the ambulance arrived the attendant told me, "Another ten to fifteen minutes and this guy would have died - he was literally freezing to death on the spot."

Made me want to cry. I love my film work, my dedication to Taste Your Freedom is without limit, but sometimes, just sometimes, the reality of what the film is about is harder to take than usual. I've come to realize that the film is about more than just poverty and homelessness - it is about our mortality, even that fine line between life and death sometimes, a place that makes me very uncomfortable - as it probably should be. Sometimes it cuts just a little too close along that knife-edge we call "life" and so I thank the Great Creator each and every day for living and the wonderful people in my life and everywhere. While we think of life as a right I have come to understand that it is actually a great privilege - verily it is a gift, and along with love it is the greatest gift of all.


The humiliation factor

Today I made the following comment on social media:

You are so right - and I am sorry to hear of your own feelings of humiliation when you were young, these are emotions that stay with us our entire lives and mold us to a degree sometimes for the better, but not always, especially when (and particularly in the case of humiliation) we are thrust into uncomfortable or (sometimes) traumatic situations which repeatedly erode our self-worth and confidence.

Frequently I come across individuals who do not wish to be filmed citing their feelings of humiliation and wanting to keep their dignity. A few have even said to me, "Are you crazy?  No one wants to be seen as homeless, as though they can't help themselves, it's degrading." Thankfully the truth is that most are indeed willing to be filmed and understand the need to expose the depth and vastness of the homelessness problems, and poverty, so that others can appreciate just how deep it goes in our society. My film is aimed at sensitizing an otherwise uninformed public about these matters in the hope that they will learn from the film not only that the problem of homelessness and poverty is highly complex involving many layers of issues, but also that there are institutions, organizations and individuals who are helping people to cope and how much these people and organizations need support. How can the public help if they don't know where to put their support?  I've even had a nurse tell me that the hospital where she works, a major Montreal institution, doesn't have an adequate list of resources where they can refer people in crisis as they leave hospital - yet my film has a list longer than your arm as it were.

At the beginning of production I grappled with the issue of exposing individuals in their time of crisis - was this a moral thing to engage in - I certainly don't want to humiliate anyone and, as a rule, when people do not wish to be in the film I respect that - but I did eventually come to the conclusion that not only was what I was doing moral, it was exactly what needs to be done. 

As for "the system" all too often "denigration" (as you put it) is a component of their so-called "benevolence" (sic).  In fact here in Quebec where I live the Social Assistance (welfare) workers are well known for their often condescending and degrading or insulting "holier-than-thou" attitudes which drive people to tears and further feelings of desperation as they apply for assistance. Social-workers often behave as though it is their own money they are doling out to the "clients" (as they are called) in a most indignant fashion. This being said there are some wonderful and very professional social-workers in the welfare system here who are very helpful and understanding, truly compassionate individuals, and they are to be commended for the many hours of emotionally taxing work they do on behalf of their clients in an often chaotic and machiavellian system.

Footnote: All humans have a right to their dignity.


Christmas warmth

Today production continued with coverage of Allison Beaudoin and her children taking to the streets to offer food and clothing to organizations and individuals in need.

After some planning I met up with Allison just a couple of hours after she had distributed to a couple of shelters goods she'd gathered from her Chateauguay community in the weeks leading up to Christmas.  This was her first time out to the streets with her three children, Dustyn, Brenna, and Chance, to help people with gifts of food, some blankets and socks.  She hopes to conduct collections and distributions like this twice a year.  She relies on a small team of volunteers to help her collect and deliver the goods to small organizations helping the needy.

Allison said she would like to see a more pro-active approach on the part of the government and more soup kitchens as part of the answer to changing the fate of people currently needing help and those who are living below the poverty line.

Society is privileged to have caring citizens like Allison and what a wonderful role-model she is to her children who are also to be commended for helping out to ease the struggle of so many who are suffering.


The Cost Of Poverty

Here are some statistics about social pressures in Canada.  We all pay - YOU can help, YOU can make a difference.

  • Cost to Canadians each year = $1.4 billion

  • Number of homeless in Montreal = 28,000 (+/-)

  • Total homeless in Canada = 150,000 (U.N. study)

  • Canada's child poverty rate of 15 percent is three times as high as the rates of Sweden, Norway or Finland.

  • Every month, 770,000+ people in Canada use food banks. 

  • Forty percent of those relying on food banks are children.

  • Nearly 900,000 people used food banks in March 2010 alone - many have jobs but can't make ends meet.  Working Canadians make up the fastest growing people using food banks.

  • The first food bank in Canada was not opened until 1981, and it was only intended to be a temporary measure.

  • There are approximately 1,000 food banks in Canada.



Update info - more content, longer film

Production continues with more content than anticipated.  This pushes back the predicted completion date of the film as Taste Your Freedom continues to gather the content needed to adequately fulfill it's goals of exposing the triumphs and tragedies of life on the streets of Montreal.

You have likely noticed that the homelessness problem has increased, there certainly are more homeless than ever in almost every major city the globe over and now the smaller towns and villages are beginning to experience the seriousness at a level that is overwhelming all communities.

Montreal's West Island which used to be a well-to-do bastion is now suffering under crushing economic pressures as the middle class feels the pressure of lost jobs and increasing prices on everything from cereal to gasoline and higher property taxes.  A recent documentary short produced by a youth outreach organization asks the question, "Do you feel that the West Island is full of rich people?" to which replies are belly laughs, guffaws and scowls.  Still the misperception persists for many that this part of Montreal is somehow immune to the ravages of poverty, however we see examples every day now of the increasing numbers of "invisible homeless" (people sleeping in cars, sofa-surfing, never-ending crashing with friends and relatives) who blend in to our everyday lives.   Then there are the obvious ones who panhandle at malls, are seen picking through garbage bins and dumpsters or even a few who can be seen sleeping behind malls, stores and sometimes even in the backyards of residences. 

With the ever-expanding problems and efforts to help people more I am dedicated to bringing forth the truth about what we are seeing and I remain as committed to the mandate of the film as I was the day I began shooting.

With the Christmas holiday season knocking on our doors I wish to take a moment to remind you that this year has not been a good one for those who are providing support to struggling families.  Donations are down, food banks are struggling more than ever, and governments are failing to meet the needs of a deepening poverty situation in many countries and none the less here in Montreal.  Will you please take a few moments to consider helping, in any way you can, the many food-banks, shelters and other facilities that provide help to the many who are in need?  If every family in Canada were to donate $10 to some good cause it would make an incredible difference in our communities.  So as you write your cheques, as you shop for groceries and as you are approached by volunteers for a bit of support this season please give generously of your own resources or your time.  Thank-you.


Final call for score

Montreal Director of TASTE YOUR FREEDOM,
Kirk Bennett, makes a final invitation to composers.

Taste Your Freedom today issues a final call for score submissions.  The deadline for submissions is July 1, 2012.

"Taste Your Freedom is about much more than just
the homeless issue, it's about you and me
and who we are collectively."

Numerous composers have committed their creations to the film and now I make a final invitation to all Montreal composers to submit their works for consideration to be included in the social documentary Taste Your Freedom.  This invitation is open to all genres of music and score which can reflect the emotion, the energy, and /or the scope of the film's subject-matter.

Once all the selections have been made I will begin to make public the names of the selected composers.

If you or someone you know is looking for an opportunity to participate in the making of Taste Your Freedom, is looking for universal exposure (the film has already generated interest in all four corners of the world and on all continents including Antarctica), and wishes to participate in making a difference in society by helping to expose the multi-faceted struggles and triumphs of Montreal's dynamic life on the streets, I invite you to submit original works which are available for licensing to the film.

Thank-you to all who submit their art.  All submissions are held in confidence until licensing has been arranged and all selections have been made.

Kirk Bennett - Director



Hear their stories, see their world, then
taste YOUR freedom.


Contact: info@tasteyourfreedomthefilm.com

2012 Taste Your Freedom
All rights reserved

- 30 -


Demonstrations in Montreal escalating

Taste Your Freedom has been closely monitoring the ongoing situation in the streets of Montreal which began some eleven weeks ago beginning with students all across the province protesting tuition hikes.  At one point 200,000 students peacefully took to the streets in a mass demonstration against the hikes which the provincial government headed by a very stubborn Premier (Jean Charest) and (strictly unilingual French) Minister of Education Line Beauchamp both of them refusing to negotiate with students.  To this date they have not entered into any concrete discussions with the representatives of the student body.

What you see happening in the streets is a refection of YOU and ME and who we are collectively. Give it some thought, some more thought, and then some serious consideration.

I wish I could have you all with me for a day each as I make this film, but that's not realistic/practical. So I invite you all to see the film when it is screened this Autumn. Your eyes will be opened - no matter what you THINK you already know, the film will make very clear why these things are taking place now. All it takes is a truly open mind and a compassionate heart. Let us build a better society. I know I've gotten through to some of you, increasingly that has become apparent and my hat is off to those of you who have opened your hearts to your neighbors. There is much, much more work to do.


They are elderly - Is anyone out there?

As I continue to shoot for Taste Your Freedom and as I go about my own life I am confronted by an ever-increasing number of homeless people.  Winter is far from over yet and the number of people asking for money, food or any sort of handout never ceases to increase.  Somehow I thought things would get better by now, the number would dwindle, but I was wrong.

One particularly disturbing trend I am noticing is the sudden  increase in the number of elderly who now must come to the streets and subways to find someone, anyone, who will spare some change or food.  It makes me want to cry but I know now that "tears are not enough" (as some wise person wrote) and so my resolve to bring this film to the screen is renewed.  This is a diabolical project only less so than the circumstances these forgotten souls are suffering through.

I will soon be asking for YOUR HELP to help me help them.  Will you, please?  Is anyone out there?  Is anyone listening?


Full production resumes

Production on Taste Your Freedom resumed today and it is time to round the final corner of production.  This means a huge push foreward with the many facets of the film still on paper and waiting to be realized.

Shooting downtown today, in between one-on-one street interviews, I cam across "Gilles" who is the longest-standing homeless man I have ever known.  Gilles became one of Montreal's first victims of "deinstitutionalization," the term used for the dumping of psychiatric patients onto the streets where they must fend for themselves usually under the influence of heavy medications and on families or services that have always been inadequate to meet their special and complex needs.

I first met Gilles when I was still in high-school, over 40 years now,  and he was living in an adjacent community to where I was raised.  He would hang out at a local park and listen to me and my friends playing music - he seemed to always be there and just digging the scene as it were.  He had and appears to still have a very tender and timid personality although I can only imagine what might happen when he is not properly medicated.  I've seen him talking to walls and beings not visible to me - I do believe he may be schizophrenic - who wouldn't be schizoid after enough years on the street.  We are almost the same age, in fact I believe he is actually a couple of years younger than I am but for many years now he has looked much older with white hair.  Gilles is unable to communicate much - I've seen him abused on the streets over the decades, beaten, bloodied  and bruised, broken and chronically ill both emotionally and physically.  Now it is winter and he stands always in the same place with bare hand out and asks in a very timid way for change; you can barely hear his voice and at times all that is forthcoming from him is an un-intelligible murmur.  For some reason and perhaps it is simply because I've known him from the past, a past which has undoubtedly long ago faded from  Gilles, I feel connected to him in particular no matter how many other street and homeless people I meet.  It is not possible to interview him because of his inability to communicate yet I feel that Gilles is, to a large degree, central to the film.

There is a very thick thread through most of the interviews I've conducted for this film; don't become ill!  Most of the subjects in the film have fallen on hard times after becoming ill either emotionally or otherwise; many have physical disabilities ranging from badly damaged limbs or sight, which leads quickly to the loss of employment and soon afterwards loss of home, family, and courage.  Once the soul and psyche are corrupted and your support system is destroyed the chances of a full return to one's life is certainly possible but the odds appear to be horrible.  I am told that on average if one doesn't get off the streets in less than a year, typically 6 months, the odds of successfully overcoming your situation drop by more than half.

I would like to add that fully two thirds of the people I've interviewed on the streets have expressed willingness to work, to take (in most cases) "anything," but finding a job without a home address and a telephone is all but impossible.

The struggle continues.


Just days before Christmas Alison Beauchamp gives socks and other gifts of food to man on Atwater Street.  This fellow has lost most of his vision and is legally blind even though he is quite young.  I first met him last winter and he has finally found lodgings but still cannot make ends meet.

Just days before Christmas Allison Beaudoin gives socks and other gifts of food to man on Atwater Street.  This fellow has lost most of his vision and is legally blind even though he is quite young.  I first met him last winter and he has finally found lodgings but still cannot make ends meet.



Elderly gentleman panhandles for money on stairs of Atwater Metro in Montreal.  The elderly are finding it increasingly difficult to feed and house themselves.  They do not deserve to live out their "golden years' suffering and in fear for their health and security.

Elderly gentleman panhandles for money on stairs of Atwater Metro in Montreal. The elderly are finding it increasingly difficult to feed and house themselves. They do not deserve to live out their "golden years' suffering and in fear for their health and security.



Director of Taste Your Freedom gives presentation to Quebec ELAN members at Montreal Fringe Festival

Director of Taste Your Freedom gives presentation to Quebec English Language
Arts Network members at Montreal Fringe Festival




Stedent demonstration in Montreal - coverage by Taste Your Freedom



Alone in snow - Taste Your Freedom



Can homeless move in too? - Taste Your Freedom





Metro sleep 01 -Taste Your Freedom



Stopped at sewer - Taste Your Freedom



Lost soul in restaurant - Taste Your Freedom


Taste Your Freedom - On edge of bench - Notice the wheel (right side of picturer)?  This fellow couldn't find his towed car after he had a punctured tire.  Uunable to locate his car he couldn't get home and was late in the rent - the landlord cancelled his lease.  Ever since he carrys this wheel trying to find his car.  He has simply run out of energy ...


Pour Love on the broken places - Taste Your Freedom


Taste Your Freedom - University Street alley



Taste Your Freedom - Homeless Nation at Festival d'expression de la rue



Gilles - The longest living person on Montreal streets known to me.  He hung out with my friends and I when we were teenagers.  He is anable to communicates after more than 30 years of life on the street.

Gilles - Christmas 2012 - The longest living person on Montreal streets known to me. He hung out with my friends and I when we were teenagers. He is unable to communicate after more than 30 years of life on the street.  Gilles is one of the main inspirations for this film which is in part dedicated to him.




Crash on the grass - Taste Your Freedom







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