Best of 2021: Dora Endre’s list of movies V.

~ a series by Dora Endre // V. Sir Alex Ferguson: Never Give In, directed by Jason Ferguson ~

Times have changed, and the “old normal” seems to be part of a different galaxy in more than one way. The movie industry is no exception.

The pandemic redrew the demarcation lines, so to speak. New rules and regulations, higher cost and risk factors, as well as ways of release came into play. Many of this year’s movies have gone straight to VOD or streaming. In the very last weeks of this year, high-profile blockbusters and mainstream movies are hitting theatres from “The House of Gucci” (Ridley Scott) to “West Side Story” (Steven Spielberg). Hollywood giants and their aspirations for the award season will soon be in the spotlight.

Now that the new year has started, I hereby present my choices for the best movies of 2021. Movies that might not have their titles flashing red on the radar but bear with complex stories that are worth to emerge in. What is it that they all share? A sharp focus on the importance of human contact, and a deep appreciation of all human rapports we have in our lives. Hug your loved ones now that it is possible, as long as it is possible.

5. Sir Alex Ferguson: Never Give In (United Kingdom)

“He said: Look, I’ve never known a manager to come in.
And I said: Yeah, but you’ve never known a manager like me.”

Sir Alex Ferguson: Never Give In is a documentary film about the former ScotlandAberdeen and Manchester United football manager, Sir Alexander Ferguson. However, it is a movie not only for soccer fans. It is a fascinating piece about one of the most controversial, unparalleled figures of modern day sport history.

Never Give In starts with a quick-fire round of memory test questions, Saturday, 5 May 2018 is a total blank. In light of the devastating brain haemorrhage suffered on that day, given only a 20% chance by doctors that Ferguson would make it through surgery, his family still finds it difficult to recall those tough first days.

Director, Jason Ferguson pays tribute to his father with this deeply personal and love-filled movie. Sir Alex Ferguson is known to be a fearsome manager who now lets us into his world, allows us to take a good look at his life, on and off the pitch. We get to know about his ars poetica through his own words and interpretations. We follow his journey from a working class Scot boy to becoming the most successful manager of European football. He talks about the importance of honouring heritage, and displaying values, family, culture we have in “our backpacks”. He shares his experiences with bureaucracy, racial prejudice, religious division, threats, and professional failures.

He is a man of authenticity, even though it sometimes causes him massive trouble. Sir Alex also opens up about regrets, quarrels, loss of friendships and pain caused over the years. (The makings of this documentary pushed him to sit down and bury the hatchet with more than one of his former players.) He also talks about his original methods of building and running clubs, his take on what makes a good leader a good leader, his ways of being a psychologist and somewhat of a father figure for his players and colleagues. He shares fascinating anecdotes from his career that span over 50 years.

The only thing he cannot control is time. Aging and illnesses come with old age. Throughout this moving and thought-provoking documentary he grows and greys before our eyes. Yet his passion for his work and devotion to his family never falters.

Jason, with the help of his gripping subject, makes an atmospheric, dynamic documentary that features wonderfully retouched, reframed and composed photographs and footage. He has such a firm vision, and clarity about the matters he intends to talk about, through the story of his father, that he gives himself the freedom to reach incredible creative heights, experiment, edit his film in a way that it becomes a piece relying heavily on sense memory. We feel the cold breeze at the harbors of Scotland, hear voices of protesters marching on the street, and lay on a hospital bed staring at the dim lights on the ceiling. The movie has many wonderful moments when we truly enter Sir Alex’s peculiar brain, and see the world the way he does.

Never Give In is a documentary about the fear of losing identity, memory and control over our lives. It is a tribute to a legendary man who does not shy away from speaking his mind and who never even thinks about giving in.

Where to watch: it is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

Come back tomorrow for the next part! Here you can read Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV.

Dora Endre is a New York based Hungarian film and theatre artist with an extensive educational background (media, international communications, filmmaking, acting, editing). For the past four years she was lucky enough to collaborate with other creatives on a number of short movies, commercials, music videos, musicals, dance and off-Broadway shows. She loves to wear many hats but primarily works as a director. She also loves guacamole.