Detainment, the short film about the murder of 2-year old James Bulger, will not be withdrawn form Academy Award consideration. Director Vincent Lambe has confirmed that he has no intention of withdrawing despite Bulger's mother starting a petition to have the movie taken down. As of this writing, the petition has amassed over 150,000 signatures, nearly double what it had earlier this week before the Academy nominated the movie.
Detainment is based on the transcripts of police interviews with child killers Jon Venables and Robert Thompson. Both were 10-years old when they kidnapped 2-year old James Bulger from a grocery store. The boys then threw paint in the toddler's eyes, stoned him with bricks, and beat him with a pipe to death. They later left his body near some train tracks. Vincent Lambe had this to say about withdrawing from the Oscars.
"I won't withdraw it from the Oscars. It's like saying we should burn every copy of it. I think it would defeat the purpose of making the film. 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 criticized for it. I think we have the responsibility to try and make sense of what happened."
Normally, a movie like Detainment wouldn't cause such a stir. It is definitely controversial and disturbing, but Vincent Lambe never once went to James Bulger's family to ask for their consent while making the short film. This is why Bulger's mother, Denise Fergus, is making such a big deal about the movie even existing in the first place, never mind the fact that it has now been nominated for an Academy Award. In a recent interview, Fergus said, "He should remove it from the Oscars. Remove it from the public domain - withdraw yourself."
While Vincent Lambe regrets not talking to James Bulger's family sooner, he will not be taking Detainment down. However, many have noted that Lambe knew that he would not be able to obtain permission from Bulger's family, so he went off and did it on his own. The decision has caused a great deal of pain for Bulger's family, who were torn apart by his murder. Lambe explains.
"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."
With all of the controversy, it seems that Detainment doesn't have the best shot at winning the Academy Award. Things could change, but the Academy more than likely does not want to get in the middle of a family who had their two-year old tortured and brutally murdered and a director who never asked for permission to make a movie. You can check out the rest of the interview with Vincent Lambe over at the BBC.