Sutherland Trophy


The Sutherland Trophy is awarded by the British Film Institute (BFI) for the most original and creative film since 1958. Since 1997, it is awarded for the most original and creative film screened during the London Film Festival. The award is named after George Sutherland-Leverson-Gower, 5th Duke of Sutherland to honour his patronage and support to the BFI.

Who was George Sutherland-Leverson-Gower, 5th Duke of Sutherland

George Sutherland-Leverson-Gower, 5th Duke of Sutherland was born in 1888 as the eldest son of Cromartie Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, 4th Duke of Sutherland and his wife Lady Millicent St Clair-Erskine. He spent his childhood in Buckinghamshire and Oxford where he attended the Summer Fields School.

In 1909 and 1910, Sutherland served in the regular army. He was Lieutenant in the Royal Scots Greys and then Captain in the fifth battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders. On the eve of the First World War, he became Honorary Colonel of the fifth battalion. Sutherland served in the First World War in the Royal Naval Reserve and soon became Commander. In 1914, he was commander of the H. M. T. Catania. Until 1915, he was in Belgium with the British Military Mission. Later, he commanded the Motor Flotilla that sailed between Adriatic and Egypt.

After his father’s death in 1912, Sutherland succeeded him as the 5th Duke of Sutherland and took his seat in the House of Lords. Within the same year, he also succeeded his father as Lord-Lieutenant of Sutherland. In 1922, he was appointed Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland but he soon became Under-Secretary of State for Air. From 1925 to 1928, Sutherland served as Paymaster-General and from 1928 to 1929 as Under-Secretary of State for War. In 1936, he became a member of the Privy Council and Lord Steward of the Household.

Besides being active in politics, Sutherland was also very active in the world of motion pictures. After foundation of the BFI in 1933, he was chosen as its first Chairman. He held the position of the Chairman until 1936 but he remained a patron of the BFI until his death in 1963. In his honour, the BFI annually awards the Sutherland Trophy. The first recipient of the Trophy was Japanese film director and screenwriter Yasujiro Ozu for Tokyo Story, while the most recent winner is the American film-maker Benh Zeitlin for his film Beasts of the Southern Wild.

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