Denise Fergus, mother of the late James Bulger, is speaking out against the short film “Detainment,” after it received an Oscar nomination for Best Live Action Short Film. Directed by Vincent Lambe, “Detainment” is a 30-minute short film about the police interrogations of Bulger’s killers, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson. The narrative film uses real transcripts and interview tapes from the interrogations. Venables and Thompson were 10 years old when they murdered two-year-old Bulger.
“I cannot express how disgusted and upset I am at this so-called film that has been made and now nominated for an Oscar,” Fergus said on Twitter. “It’s one thing making a film like this without contacting or getting permission from James’s family but another to have a child reenact 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!”
Fergus continued, “After everything I have said about this so-called film and asking it to be removed, it’s still been nominated for for an Oscar even though 90,000 people have signed a petition which has now been ignored just like my feelings by the Academy.”
Lambe has previously apologized for not consulting Fergus or any members of Bulger’s family during the making of “Detainment.” The director also offered to donate proceeds from screenings of the movie to the James Bulger Memorial Trust. In his apology, Lambe wrote, “I have enormous sympathy for the Bulger family and I am extremely sorry for any upset the film may have caused them.”
Bulger’s death occurred February 12, 1993. Fergus took her son with her to a shopping center near Liverpool, and when she went to pay at the counter Venables and Thompson took the two-year-old and left the market. As The Washington Post reports, the 10 year olds threw paint in Bulger’s eyes, stoned him with bricks, and beat him to death with an iron pipe. Bulger’s body was left on nearby train tracks.
“Detainment” received an Oscar nomination for Best Live Action Short Film along with “Skin,” “Marguerite,” “Fauve,” and “Mother.” The award will be announced during the 91st Academy Awards telecast, which airs February 24 at 8pm ET on ABC.