Sydney Samuelson

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Sir Sydney Wylie Samuelson, CBE (born 7 December 1925) was appointed in 1991 by the government of the UK as the first British Film Commissioner.[1]

The son of G. B. Samuelson, a cinema pioneer of the silent film era, he has been an officer of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for over twenty years. His first job was as a rewind boy at the Luxor cinema in Lancing, West Sussex. After working in several cinemas in the Midlands as a relief operator for the ABC circuit, he got a job as a trainee film editor with Gaumont British, which was then at Lime Grove in London.

After serving in the Royal Air Force he got a job as a trainee cameraman with the Colonial Film Unit. In 1954 he set up Samuelson Film Service, hiring out film equipment. He went on to become the first British Film Commissioner and remained in the post for six years. He was chosen as chairman of the Management board of BAFTA in 1976 and is a permanent trustee.

In 1985 he received the Michael Balcon Award and in 1993 a Fellowship of BAFTA, the Academy’s highest honour. In 1995 he received a knighthood from Charles, Prince of Wales, awarded by Elizabeth II for services to the British Film Commission.

Samuelson is featured in the book Conversations with Cinematographers, published by the American publisher Scarecrow Press.

He was the first President of the UK Jewish Film Festival. He remained in the role until 2005, and as of 2010 is currently the UKJFF Honorary Lifetime Patron