Vincent Lambe, the director of the new film Detainment, has confirmed that he will not be withdrawing from the 2019 Oscars following heavy criticism.
The film, a short drama about the murder of James Bulger, has been nominated for the Best Live Action Short Film at the 91st Academy Awards. However, Denise Fergus, the mother of James Bulger, has condemned the film and explained how she feels “disgusted and upset” by the project and its success.
Fergus has circulated a petition to have it removed from Oscar consideration after she explained how the film was made without contacting her family. The petition has now amassed more than 150,000 signatures.
Bulger’s mother, Denise Fergus, said in an interview with ITV: “He should remove it from the Oscars.
“Remove it from the public domain – withdraw yourself.”
Taking to Twitter, Fergus further condemned the film: “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!” she wrote.
“I’m 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 its category in the Oscars,” she added.
The thirty-minute film is based on exact transcripts of real-life police interviews with child killers Jon Venables and Robert Thompson. While director Lambe regrets not reaching out to the family sooner, he has confirmed that he has no intentions of withdrawing the film from the Oscars.
“I won’t withdraw it from the Oscars,” the director said in an interview with the BBC. “It’s like saying we should burn every copy of it. I think it would defeat the purpose of making the film,” he added.
He continued: “The public opinion at the moment now is that those two boys were simply evil and anybody who says anything different or gives an alternate reason as to why they did it or tries to understand why they did it, they get criticised for it.
“I think we have the responsibility to try and make sense of what happened.”
Issuing a statement of his own, Lambe apologised for not contacting the family earlier but still defended the premise of his work. “Detainment, the short film I directed is based on interview transcripts and records and it is entirely factual with no embellishments whatsoever,” he wrote.
“It was never intended to bring any anguish to the family of James Bulger, but rather to examine why children commit serious crimes… 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 did not make (Fergus) aware of the film.”