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Film poster
Directed byVincent Lambe
Darren Mahon
Produced byRobert Dwyer-Joyce
Vincent Lambe
Written byVincent Lambe
Music byFilip Sijanec
CinematographyPatrick Jordan
Release date
  • May 2018 (2018-05) (Cannes)
Running time
30 minutes

Detainment is a 2018 Irish short drama film written and directed by Vincent Lambe,[1] about the murder of James Bulger.[2] It was nominated for the Best Live Action Short Film at the 91st Academy Awards.[3]


  • Ely Solan as Jon
  • Leon Hughes as Robert
  • Will O'Connell as Detective Dale
  • David Ryan as Detective Scott
  • Tara Breathnach as Susan Venables
  • Killian Sheridan as Neil Venables


In January 2019, it was nominated for the Best Live Action Short Film at the 91st Academy Awards.[4] Denise Fergus, the mother of James Bulger, stated that she was "disgusted and upset" by the film and its subsequent nomination because the film was made without contacting her family. She had previously circulated a petition to have it removed from Oscar consideration, which drew more than 227,000 signatures by 29 January 2019, and wrote to the film's director Vincent Lambe to withdraw it from the Oscars.[5] Lambe said that he would not be doing so, saying "It's like saying we should burn every copy of it. I think it would defeat the purpose of making the film".[6]

Malcolm Stevens, who oversaw the detention of the killers as the former Home Secretary's professional adviser, defended the making of the film in an editorial, saying that it raised questions regarding the treatment of young offenders which he felt "successive governments have striven to avoid".[7]


  1. ^ "Detainment director Vincent Lambe: 'I wanted to bring some shades of grey to the James Bulger case'". Go London. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  2. ^ "Oscars 2019: James Bulger's mother 'disgusted' over nomination". BBC News. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  3. ^ "Oscar Nomination for Short Film 'Detainment' Sparks Backlash in Britain". Variety. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  4. ^ "Oscars 2019: The nominees in full". BBC News. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  5. ^ "Oscars 2019: James Bulger's mother sends plea to Detainment film director". BBC News. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  6. ^ "Bulger film director 'won't withdraw' from Oscars race". BBC News. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  7. ^ Stevens, Malcolm (28 January 2019). "When children kill a child: the Bulger case and an Oscar-nominated film". openDemocracy (editorial).

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