Without fanfare, the University of Quebec in Montreal lifted, in the fall of 2021, the temporary ban on access to the archives of Claude Jutra, a measure instituted in February 2016 following revelations about alleged acts of pedophilia.
La Presse made this observation by chance of a consultation on the website of the Service des archives et de gestion de documents de l’UQAM for another subject. The institution did not issue a notice or press release announcing the lifting of the ban.
“As is the case with all of our fund processing, we have not publicized its reopening,” said Caroline Tessier, Director of Communications Services, in an email exchange with La Presse.
In February 2016, author Yves Lever published a biography of Claude Jutra in which he indicated that the filmmaker, who died in 1986, had committed acts of pedophilia in his life.
Suddenly, a storm is rising in the cultural world of Quebec. The name of Claude Jutra is erased from the Quebec cinema gala and from the main projection room of the Cinémathèque québécoise. Streets, squares and parks paying homage to him change their names. A sculpture in his memory signed Charles Daudelin is vandalized and removed from a Montreal park.
At the same time, UQAM suspended access to the fund “for the sake of not infringing the privacy of third parties or their reputation”, it was said then. There was talk of doing a full content evaluation.
Five years later, in March 2021, La Presse publishes an article indicating that the entire fund still remains inaccessible. We are then told that the archives service is not subsidized for the preservation of private archives, that its resources are limited and that the COVID-19 pandemic explains the long processing time.
Eventually, the ban was lifted in the following months.
The extensive review of the archives did not result in “removal of exhibits,” Caroline Tessier tells us. On the other hand, as originally planned, certain elements of the fonds are under seal for a period of 50 years, until June 1, 2040. Because these documents, including a personal diary, could contain information on third parties.
Quebec director and actor Claude Jutra has produced the works Mon oncle Antoine, Kamouraska and À tout prit, among others. Remember that the Cinémathèque québécoise also owns a smaller part of Claude Jutra’s archives.