James Bulger’s mother calls for Oscars to drop short film about son’s killers from shortlist

Detainment is based on transcripts of the police interrogation of Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, the two ten-year-old boys who were convicted of Bulger’s murder

Detainment (trailer screenshot)

The mother of James Bulger, the two-year-old who was murdered in Liverpool in 1993, has called for the Academy Awards to drop a short film about the case which has been shortlisted for an Oscar nomination.


Appearing on Loose Women on Monday, Denise Fergus criticised filmmaker Vincent Lambe for not consulting her about the film, entitled Detainment, and called for the Oscars to drop it from its shortlist.

Oscars Statuettes for the Academy Awards, Getty

“I don’t think [Lambe] had the right to do it … it’s been put on the shortlist now for the Oscar and I think it should be removed,” she said.

“In my own personal opinion I think [Lambe is] just trying to big his career up. And to do that under someone else’s grief is just unbelievable and unbearable.”

Detainment is based on transcripts of the police interrogation of ten-year-olds Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, who were subsequently convicted of murdering Bulger.

Bulger’s father Ralph said that Lambe had also failed to contact him about the making of the film and accused it of being “sympathetic” to his son’s killers. “Not once has the maker of this film contacted me or any of James’s family about this film,” he told the Mirror.

“It has been 26 years since my son was taken and murdered and so I have seen many documentaries and news stories about him. But I have never been so cut up and offended by something that shows so little compassion to James and his family.

“I accept this is a murder of such magnitude it will always be written about and featured in the news but to make a film so ­sympathetic to James’s killers is devastating.” 

In a lengthy Twitter statement in response to Fergus’s appearance on Loose Women, Lambe insisted the film “had not been made for financial gain”.

“There has been criticism that the film ‘humanises’ the killers, but if we cannot accept that they are human beings, we will never begin to understand what could have driven them to commit such a horrific crime,” he wrote.

“The only way to prevent something similar happening in the future is if we understand the cause of it.”


The 2019 Oscar nominations will be announced on 22nd January.