Entertainment & Arts

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

Still from Detainment Image copyright Vincent Lambe
Image caption Young actors playing Bulger's killers in the film Detainment

The mother of murdered toddler James Bulger says she is "disgusted" a film about the boys who killed her son in 1993 has been nominated for an Oscar.

Detainment recreates the police interviews with the two young killers using the original transcripts.

It has made the shortlist for the Academy's best live action short film.

"I cannot express how disgusted and upset I am that this so-called film has been made and now nominated for an Oscar," Denise Fergus tweeted.

The film was made by Irish director Vincent Lambe, who has previously apologised for not making Mrs Fergus aware of it soon enough and "for any upset the film may have caused".

It recreates the moments before and after 10-year-olds Robert Thompson and Jon Venables took James from a shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside, as well as their police interviews.

More than 90,000 people had signed a petition before the nominations were announced on Tuesday asking the Oscars to disqualify the 30-minute film.

After the Oscar nominations were announced on Tuesday, the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, tweeted his congratulations to the Irish nominees, including the team behind Detainment.

Last month, Mrs Fergus told ITV's Loose Women she thought Lambe was using the case to further his career, and said she wanted the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences to remove it from contention.

"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," she said.

She told the programme: "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."

Image copyright PA
Image caption James Bulger was two when he was abducted and killed in 1993

Mrs Fergus has been a vocal campaigner over the years, pressing for longer sentences her son's murderers, who were sentenced to a minimum of eight years, and publishing her recent book, I Let Him Go.

Speaking to BBC News before James's family made their views known, Lambe said: "I wouldn't expect them 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."

In a statement released after Mrs Fergus first spoke out, Lambe said: "I have enormous sympathy for the Bulger family and I am extremely sorry for any upset the film may have caused them. With hindsight, I am sorry I didn't make Mrs Fergus aware of the film."

He added: "The film was not made for financial gain and nobody involved in the making of the film intends to profit from it."

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