A Tribute to Sir Sydney Samuelson CBE


Sir Sydney Samuelson CBE (aged 97) Patron of the Plaza Community Cinema
Born 7th December 1925 – Died 14th December 2022

A Tribute to Sydney Samuelson

It is with great sadness that the Plaza announces the loss of a great friend and Patron Sir Sydney Samuelson who passed away on Wednesday 14th Dec surrounded by his loving family.


Sir Sydney was born in Paddington, London to George Samuelson a cinema pioneer of the silent film era.

Sir Sydney started his career at 14 yr old as a rewind boy at the Luxor Cinema in Lancing, West Sussex, and later became a relief operator for the ABC circuit in the Midlands. He then became a trainee film editor with Gaumont British. After serving in the RAF from 1943-47 he became a trainee cameraman with Colonial Film Unit and then Rayant Pictures for whom he filmed the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953 Sir Sydney became a cinematographer and founder of the Samuelson Group with his three brothers, and became the largest film equipment company in the world.

He worked on all of David Lean’s films including Doctor Zhivago, 13 Bond films, Richard Donner’s, Superman, Fred Zimmermans, A Man for all Seasons, Fiddler on the Roof, 2001 A Space Odyssey and his dear friend Dickie Attenborough’s Ghandi.

In 1985 he received BAFTA’s Michael Balcon Award for Outstanding British Contribution to Film. He was appointed the Governments first British Film Commissioner in 1991 by the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and served as Chairman & Vice Chair of BAFTA.
In 1993 he received a BAFTA Fellowship for contribution to the film and television industry, and in 1997 A British Institute Fellowship Sir Sydney was awarded an CBE in 1978 and Knighted in 1995 The honours will not be what he is remembered for by hundreds of people working in the industry, it was those given a start, mentored, inspired and encouraged by Sir Sydney.

Sir Sydney was married to Lady Doris for 72 years until her death in April 2022
Sir Sydney gave his time to organisations including the BFI, British Society of Cinematographers, The BKSTS, The Producers Association, Guild of BritishCamera Technicians and charities including Medicinema, Association of Jewish Ex Servicemen & Women, Muscular Dystrophy campaign and The Plaza Community Cinema.

Sir Sydney became involved in 1997 just prior to us opening as a community cinema.
The biggest blockbuster of the summer Jurassic Park The Lost World which was due to open in July, to have any chance of even getting off the ground we knew we had to have that film. The distributor had other ideas and told us in no uncertain terms to go away. That’s when Jan Dunn and colleagues decided to telephone Sir Sydney and ask for his help. Sir Sydney was on a cruise and he told Jan write me a letter my Dear, and in the letter write Dear Sir Sydney we need a Blockbuster, so Sir Sydney who was a close friend of Dickie Attenborough who was in the film asked him could he help the Plaza, Dickie said he would speak to Percy Livingstone who was the President of the Film Distributors Association and we got the film to show on the 18th July 1997.

Sir Sydney was instrumental in helping the Plaza become what it is today and we owe him a huge debt of gratitude. His continuous support over the last 25 years has been invaluable. His visits, phone calls, advice and friendship will always be remembered, and we send our deepest sympathy to his family.

Martin Fol
General Manager

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