James Bulger’s Mother Furious After Film About Son’s Final Moments Gets Oscar Nomination

by : Emily Brown on : 23 Jan 2019 12:30
robert thompson and jon venables James Bulger murderersrobert thompson and jon venables James Bulger murderersGetty

The mother of James Bulger, the toddler who was murdered in 1993, is furious that a short film about her son’s death has received an Oscar nomination. 

Detainment was released in 2018 and recreates police interviews, using original transcripts, which were conducted with the two 10-year-old boys arrested under suspicion of abducting and murdering James, who were found guilty.


The film also depicts the moments before and after young Robert Thompson and Jon Venables abducted James from a shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside.

The toddler’s body was found on a railway line in Walton, Liverpool, two days later.

James Bulger CCTV imageJames Bulger CCTV imagePA

The film was made by Irish director Vincent Lambe, who did not consult James’ family ahead of its creation.


Speaking to BBC News about why he made the film, Lambe said:

I wouldn’t expect [the family] 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.

Last month, James’ mother Denise Fergus appeared on ITV’s Loose Women where she expressed her feelings about Detainment and explained she didn’t want it to be in the running for an Oscar.


She said:

I strongly do want it pulling, I don’t think it deserves any Oscars and he’s just trying to big his career up and big himself up by [using] someone else’s grief.

I’m asking people to boycott it because I just don’t think it should have been made in the first place, especially without James’s parents being consulted.

James Bulger's mother Denise Fergus on Loose WomenJames Bulger's mother Denise Fergus on Loose WomenLoose Women/YouTube

More than 90,000 people signed a petition asking the Academy to disqualify the short film, but yesterday (January 22) it was revealed Detainment had made the short list for Best Short Film (Live Action).


Denise took to Twitter to share her outrage at the nomination, where she wrote:

I cannot express how disgusted and upset I am at this so called film that has been made and now nominated for an Oscar.

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!

James BulgerJames BulgerGetty

The tweet continued:


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 am 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.

According to the Mirror, James’ father spoke about how the creation of the film was like ‘a living nightmare’, saying:

Hollywood should hang its head in shame. There are some things that should be off limits and the murder of a baby is one of them.

To ­Hollywood it is just another film. But to me and my family it is a living ­nightmare. Those behind the Oscar nominations knew how we felt about this film and the director.

We’ve been very public about how ­devastating it is to see such a sympathetic portrayal of James’s killers.

The boys who killed James are now grown men, one is inside again for child abuse offences. But will they remember that on Oscar night in their fancy dresses and tuxedos?

James’ family set up a memorial trust for the toddler, which you can learn more about here.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to [email protected] 

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Film and TV


BBC News and 3 others
  1. BBC News

    Oscars 2019: James Bulger's mother 'disgusted' over nomination

  2. Mirror

    James Bulger's parents reveal 'living nightmare' over Oscar nominated murder movie

  3. Loose Women/YouTube


  4. Denise Fergus