Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 May 2019

Mother of murdered toddler ‘disgusted’ by Oscar nomination for film about her son's death

'Detainment', a short film about the death of James Bulger, 2, has been recognised by the Academy Awards

Ely Solan as Jon Venables in 'Detainment'. Courtesy Twelve Media
Ely Solan as Jon Venables in 'Detainment'. Courtesy Twelve Media

The mother of a murdered toddler has revealed her “disgust and upset” after a film about her son’s death was nominated for an Academy Award.

Denise Fergus, whose son James Bulger was killed in 1993 in one of Britain’s most notorious murder cases, shared her outrage as Vincent Lambe's Detainment was announced as a contender in the best live action short category on Tuesday.

The 30-minute film is based on original transcripts of police interviews with Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, the 10-year-olds found guilty of Bulger’s torture and death.

Bulger was abducted by the boys from a shopping centre in Merseyside, in the north-west of England, and his body was found two days later. Venables and Thompson, the UK's youngest convicted murderers, were later released from detention on a lifelong sentence in 2001.

Detainment recreates the moments before and after Bulger’s abduction, as well as police interviews with his killers.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Mrs Fergus said she hoped the film – made without the family’s consent – would not take home a trophy at the February 24 ceremony.

"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.

"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' life before he was brutally murdered and making myself and my family have to relive this all over again."

A Change.org petition asking the Academy to disqualify Detainment from nominations has garnered more than 96,000 signatures in two weeks. The public sentiment from the petition had been “ignored, just like my feelings”, Fergus added.

“I am so angry and upset at this present time,” Mrs Fergus said. “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 its category in the Oscars.”

UNDATED FILER OF JAMES BULGER, THE TODDLER MURDERED IN LIVERPOOL. POLICE QUESTIONING TWO TEN-YEAR OLD BOYS IN CONNECTION WITH JAMES'S ABDUCTION & DEATH.
Two-year-old James Bulger was abducted and killed in 1993. PA

Last month, Mrs Fergus pleaded for viewers to boycott the film during an appearance on British TV show Loose Women.

“I don't think it deserves any Oscars and [Lambe is] just trying to big his career up and big himself up by [using] someone else's grief," she said.

"I hoped that it would die down. I don't think he had the right to do it… I think James's family should have been consulted on the film."

Irish director Lambe has apologised for not making Bulger’s family aware of his work and "for any upset the film may have caused".

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

The filmmaker previously told BBC News that the film was not intended to cause any further grief for Bulger’s family.

“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."

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Updated: January 23, 2019 03:15 PM

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