The director of Two Women in Gold, Happiness and The Weavers of Power, Claude Fournier, died Thursday afternoon at the CHUM, in Montreal, following a heart attack, surrounded by his loved ones. He was 91 years old.

“He was a man who was interested in everything, that’s what was exciting to live with him, told La Presse his spouse of the last 53 years, Marie-José Raymond. I was immensely lucky to share my life with someone like that. »

Claude Fournier had a heart attack while on vacation in Martinique with Ms. Raymond and friends, explains this one. He was hospitalized at the University of Montreal Hospital Center (CHUM) upon his return, about a week ago. He died Thursday afternoon, surrounded in particular by his twin brother Guy Fournier, Mrs. Raymond and his children.

“It’s a big loss, because we spent our life together, we were born together and we thought we might have the chance to die together,” said Guy Fournier on the phone, tremolos in the voice. The two brothers were born in July 1931 in Waterloo, Estrie. In recent years, they lived very close to each other on Île des Soeurs.

If Claude Fournier began his career at Radio-Canada and the National Film Board, then by directing numerous documentaries, it was with Deux femmes en or (1970) that he engraved his name in the ledger of the history of Quebec cinema.

With Denis Héroux’s L’initiation et Valérie, the director’s first feature-length fiction film contributed to the advent of what is called the butt film. Starring Monique Mercure and Louise Turcot, Deux femmes en or depicts the mischievousness of two suburbanites who chase their blues by doing somersaults with delivery men and repairmen.

Popular success, the comic film will however be mistreated by critics. “We wanted to say that sex is fun and it can be fun. You can laugh while fucking. And my girlfriend, with whom I agreed, wanted to remember that women can love sex, ”remembered Claude Fournier in an interview with La Presse in 2020.

In 1983, Claude Fournier took on the big screen adaptation of a classic of French-language literature, the novel Bonheur d’occasion by Gabrielle Roy, for which he co-wrote the screenplay with Marie-José Roy, his great accomplice on the plans. both professional and personal.

It is with her that he shot Our Summer with André (2018), which will be his last film. This foray into André Brassard’s apartment will have given the legendary director the floor for the last time, a project that bears witness to the importance that the preservation of collective cultural memory had for the director.

In 2008, Pierre Karl Péladeau had also placed the firing of his project to digitize and restore Quebec cinematographic heritage, Elephant – memory of Quebec cinema, in the hands of Claude Fournier and Marie-José Raymond. The couple headed the organization until 2018.

“He was someone who was discreet about himself, and who deserves people to take an interest in his work, as much as a poet as well as a writer and filmmaker,” said Ms. Raymond.

“I think Claude had an infinite passion for cinema, and for Quebec cinema,” adds Guy Fournier. And we should remember everything he did for [Elephant – memory of cinema]. »

“He spent days and nights in editing rooms digitizing all the great films of Quebec cinema,” adds Montreal City Councilor Serge Sasseville.

In 2009, Claude Fournier published an autobiography, entitled À force de vivre, in which he depicts a life that began in a poor family. “We had an extremely difficult childhood,” recalls his brother Guy Fournier. We did our studies on the hooks of [religious institutions]. It was always, until you were 25 or 26, extremely difficult financially. »

This story highlights his pen, according to his spouse. “He was a man of great complexity, who was not only a filmmaker, he was also a great writer. His autobiography, for me, is a book that illustrates his talent. »

Since April 2022, Claude Fournier has been demonstrating daily with Marie-Josée Raymond and Serge Sasseville in front of the Russian consulate in Montreal, in opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“He arrived every day with crafts, unflattering drawings of Vladimir Putin, which the employees rushed to remove,” recalls Serge Sasseville, who also delivered a testimony in memory of Mr. Fournier on social networks .

And he was there every day, even at Christmas, adds the municipal councilor. “Yes, he was passionate about culture, but also a man of causes,” he says. The war in Ukraine, for him, was something very personal. »

“There is no age to quit,” reads Claude Fournier’s Twitter page. And he embodied this sentence well, supports his brother. Claude Fournier watched ten films a week, continued to film using his iPhone and even learned to use new editing software, when he had already mastered one, lists his twin. “It was a bit daring, but I thought it was admirable!” »