Sydney Samuelson

Sir Sydney H. Wylie Samuelson CBE (born 7 December 1925) is a British film director and cinematographer.[2] He was appointed in 1991 by the government of the UK as the first British Film Commissioner.[3]

Sir Sydney Samuelson
Sydney H. Wylie Samuelson

(1925-12-07) 7 December 1925
Paddington, Greater London[1]
ChildrenPeter Samuelson
Parent(s)G. B. Samuelson

Early life

Sydney Wylie Samuelson was born in Paddington, London to George Berthold Samuelson, a cinema pioneer of the silent film era, and Marjorie Emma Elizabeth Vint. He was educated at the Irene Avenue Council School in Lancing, Sussex.[2]


Samuelson started his career 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 1943–1947.[4], 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 wrote the foreword featured in the book In Conversation with Cinematographers by David A. Ellis, published by the American publisher Rowman & Littlefield. 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.


  1. England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1916-2007
  2. Mosley, Charles, ed. (2003). Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knighthood (107 ed.). Burke's Peerage & Gentry. p. 3520. ISBN 0-9711966-2-1.
  3. BFI
  4. "Sir Sydney Samuelson CBE - British Cinematographer". British Cinematographer. 3 May 2015. Retrieved 22 April 2018.
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