Mother of James Bulger slams Oscar nomination for film about her son's murderers

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Detainment (Credit: Vincent Lambe)

The mother of James Bulger, the toddler murdered in 1993, has said that she’s ‘disgusted’ by the Oscar nomination for a film about her son’s killers.

Detainment, made by Irish director Vincent Lambe, was nominated in the ‘best live action short’ category yesterday.

The film is crafted from police interviews with 10-year-olds Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, who on February 12, 1993, led two-year-old James from a shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside, to a railway line, where he was tortured and beaten to death.

But Denise Fergus, James’s mother, has slammed the decision to nominate the documentary.

“I cannot express how disgusted and upset I am at this so called film that has been made and now nominated for an Oscar,” she said in a statement released on Twitter.

“It’s one thing making a film like this without contacting or getting permission from James family but another to have a child re-enact the final hours of James’s life before he was brutally murdered and making myself and my family have to relive this all over again!

Denise Fergus (Credit: PA)

“After everything I’ve said about this so called film and asking for it to be removed, it’s still been nominated for an Oscar even though over 90,000 people have signed a petition which has now been ignored just like my feelings by the Academy.

“I’m so angry and upset at this present time. I personally want to thank everyone that has signed the petition up to now and hopefully will carry on supporting me in this.

“I just hope the film doesn’t win it’s category in the Oscars.”


Lambe has previously spoken of his intentions with the film, and apologised for not making the family aware that he was making it at the time.

“I have enormous sympathy for the Bulger family and I am extremely sorry for any upset the film may have caused them. With hindsight, I am sorry I didn’t make Mrs Fergus aware of the film,” he said in a statement, released after Mrs Fergus first spoke out about it.

“The film was not made for financial gain and nobody involved in the making of the film intends to profit from it.”

In an interview with BBC News, he added: “I wouldn’t expect them to be comfortable with a film which humanises the boys but I do hope they understand the reason it was made, and it certainly wasn’t to bring any more grief to them.

“The reason the film was made was to try and offer more of an understanding as to how these two 10-year-old boys could have committed such a horrific crime because I think if we don’t understand the cause of it, it’s likely that something similar will happen again in the future.”


Yesterday, the Irish president Michael D. Higgins congratulated the makers of the film on their Oscar nomination on Twitter.

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