James Bulger: Mother of murdered child urges Detainment director to withdraw from Oscars race

Denise Fergus said that the film was making her 'relive' the trauma all over again

Jacob Stolworthy
Thursday 24 January 2019 11:47
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James Bulger's mother Denise Fergus: short film 'Detainment' about killers should be removed from Oscars shortlist

The mother of murdered child James Bulger has urged the director of a film about her son’s killers to pull out of the Oscars.

Denise Fergus said she was “disgusted” upon learning that Irish director Vincent Lambe’s Detainment had been recognised in the Best Live Action Short category, but has now called upon him to withdraw the nomination.

Seaking on This Morning, Denise Fergus said: “He should remove it from the Oscars, he’s nominated himself... remove it from the public domain – withdraw yourself.”

The film is based on police interviews with Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, who were convicted of murdering two-year-old Bulger after abducting him from a shopping centre when they were 10.

Fergus said that the film is asking her “relive the nightmare”, adding: “I tried to put it behind me, I’ve got through all these years, to see that still [image] of him being led to his death by those two... And now it’s being shown again?”

Co-host Holly Willoughby, who was visibly upset during the interview, said that the film “didn’t seem right” and apologised to Fergus for “having to go through this again”.

Lambe previously apologised for not consulting with the family beforehand, but denied making the film for “financial gain.”

Speaking to RTE, he said: “[Detainment] was never intended to bring any more anguish to the Bulger family. In hindsight, I think we probably should have got in touch or let her [Denise Fergus] know we were going to make it.”

In a new statement to This Morning, Lambe said: “The film was never intended to bring any further anguish to the family of James Bulger, and we never intended any disrespect by not consulting them.

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“Whilst it is a painfully difficult case to understand, I believe we have a responsibility to try and make sense of what happened. Critics have specifically commented on the film being responsible and respectful to the victim.”

Albert Kirby, the detective who brought Thompson and Venables to justice, agreed with Fergus that Lambe should show “decency” by asking the Academy to cancel the nomination.

He also criticised the “insensitive” film, telling the BBC: ”The actual events he puts in the film are accurate. You cannot fault that about it, but to my mind that’s irrelevant. It’s the whole context of it.

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“It’s causing so much unnecessary upset.”

The Oscars take place in Los Angeles on 24 February.

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