Saturday 16 February 2019

Parents of James Bulger demand film about his murder be withdrawn from Oscars

Detainment, based on police interviews with their son’s killers, has been nominated for an Academy Award.

Denise Fergus is outraged at the film based on the death of her son (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Denise Fergus is outraged at the film based on the death of her son (Jonathan Brady/PA)

By Craig Simpson, Press Association

The parents of murdered toddler James Bulger have called for a film about his brutal death to be removed from Oscar contention.

Denise Fergus and Ralph Bulger have called on the director of short film Detainment, based on police interviews with their son’s killers, to be barred from public viewing.

They have said seeing images of actors playing their child and his murderers Jon Venables and Robert Thompson was “horrendous”, and images from the film haunt them still.

Bulger directly called on Irish director Vincent Lambe to withdraw from the Oscars and stop the distribution of his film.

He said: “He was 12 years old when it happened.  If you go on social media, that’s all he’s talking about, trying to get himself out there, putting himself forward for the Oscar.

“We’re actually saying to Vincent Lambe now, because he’s put himself forward for the Oscar, withdraw that yourself and remove your film from the public domain.”

The two-year-old James Bulger was led away from a Merseyside shopping centre – a moment captured on CCTV – by Venables and Thompson in 1993.  they tortured and killed him, and were arrested soon after.

Detainment follows the events surrounding the shocking murder.

Fergus believes the film takes liberties with the truth of the case, and she is haunted by the images revisited in Lambe’s work. She wants protections in place for films linked to true stories which writers and directors may use for artistic purposes.

She said: “Seeing the images of actors playing James, it’s just horrendous.  I just can’t get that image out of my head of him being led away.”

Fergus added: “It’s a true story but he’s altered stuff.  A lot of stuff.  I think it shouldn’t get the Oscar.  I don’t think he’s sorry at all.

“I think something should be put in place now, whether it’s a documentary or film, I think the families of victims should be contacted before it goes ahead.”

Detained has been nominated in the Best Live Action Short at the 2019 Oscars.

Representatives of director Lambe have been contacted for comment.

Press Association

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