The case made headlines in 1993. Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, aged 10 years, were kidnapped, tortured and killed James Bulger, 2 years old, in Liverpool. The body of the boy was found two days later on a railway track, sliced in two by a train. Horrified, and in England as a whole has mourned.
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The parents of James Bulger, Denise Fergus and Ralph Bulger, required this Thursday the filmmaker’s irish Vincent Lambe that he waives the right to distribute Detainment , “custody”, his short film, inspired by the case, and that it be removed from the race for the Oscars. For the duration of thirty minutes, the film is presented as a “true story based on transcripts of interrogations and recordings”. A petition launched in support of the parents has received more than 170,000 signatures. Figure that grows day by day.
“I am very sad and very angry,” noted Denise Fergus on his Twitter account. “It is already problematic to make a film without contact, or have the permission of the family of James,” she says. But it is even more serious to play with a child the last hours of the life of James, before he is brutally killed. And to relive all of it again to me and my family.” Followed by 50,000 people on Twitter, Denise Fergus, who has published a book in 2018 on the tragic episode, and has received a great wave of support on the Internet.
“For Hollywood, this is just one more movie. But for my family and for me, it’s a nightmare,” said Ralph Bulger, the father of the child, in the Daily Mirror . To the chagrin of the parents, the Academy of the Oscars has, until now, not change its selection.
“An important film to make”
Interviewed by the London Evening Standard , Vincent Lambe admits to his dismay. “I think we have the responsibility to try to illuminate what happened,” explains the director. “If you look at the film, you will see that there is nothing sympathetic to the murderers,” says Vincent Lambe to those who have expressed this fear. “I thought a lot for years before I started and I am convinced that this is an important film to make”, he says.
“I think that if we had contacted [the parents of James Bulger], it would have completely changed the story. There would have been a certain pressure to tell it from their point of view,” he continued, responding to criticism that he has addressed to Denise Fergus.
Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, both murderers, are out of prison in 2001 at age 18, after eight years behind bars. The State has granted new identities to avoid reprisals. “They can go anywhere, I know that there will be someone to discover them”, had threatened Denise Fergus. Uncle James had, he estimated that “death is too soft for these two”. The kind of phrases which tickled the tabloids English. The News of the World , the headline read “Dead in four weeks,” echoing the words of a close family member to be hurt.
Jon Venables has once again made the headlines in 2010 and in February 2018. Convicted of possession of child pornographic materials, he was sentenced to two years in jail the first time, three years and four months the second.