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21.32 22 Jan 2019


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The mother of murdered toddler James Bulger has said she is “disgusted and upset” that an Irish-made film about his killers has been nominated for an Oscar.

Irish writer and director Vincent Lambe’s film Detainment was this afternoon nominated for an Oscar in the Best Live Action Short category.

The film is based on transcripts of police interviews with the two young boys convicted of murdering the two-year-old in Liverpool in 1993.

It follows the movements of 10-year-olds Robert Thompson and Jon Venables before and after they abducted the young child from a supermarket in the UK city.

Detainment has met with critical acclaim since it was produced – winning the best short film award at the Cannes Film Festival and the grand prix at the Odense festival in Denmark.

James’ family have warned that Mr Lambe never contacted them while making the film and have claimed that it is sympathetic to the killers.

For his part, Mr Lambe has apologised for not making the family aware of it soon enough.

He noted that it was “not made for financial gain and nobody involved in the making of the film intends to profit from it."

In a Twitter post this afternoon James’ mother Denise Fergus said: "I cannot express how disgusted and upset I am at this so-called film 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 hour of James's life before he was brutally murdered and making myself and my family have to relive this all over again."

On Newstalk’s Moncrieff this afternoon, Mr Lambe said he believes it is “an important film and I hope people will see it.”

“There is a lot of controversy about it now and a lot of it is just based on misinformation I think,” he said.

“People think it is a different film than it is and I think when people see it; it will hopefully defuse a lot of that.”

"Enormously sensitive"

He said the Oscar nomination was a “huge relief” – and admitted the film touches on a tough subject.

“I think if it was an easy watch it would just undermine the gravity of what is about,” he said.

“But it is entirely factual and there are no embellishments in there whatsoever.

“I thought about it a lot; I had a lot of apprehensions before making because it is such an enormously sensitive subject which still causes public outrage.”

A petition calling for the film to be banned from the Oscars was signed by more than 91,000 people and Mrs Fergus said she is “so angry and upset” that the petition has been “ignored, just like my feelings, by the Academy.”

Mr Lambe was not the only Irish person among the nominees announced today.

The Irish co-production The Favourite was nominated for 10 awards – including one for Irish cinematographer Robbie Ryan.

Meanwhile, Kilkenny’s Cartoon Saloon was nominated in the Best Animated Short category for Late Afternoon.


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