Paul Yule

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This article is about the British photographer. For the German archaeologist, see Paul Alan Yule.

Paul Harris Yule is a photojournalist and film maker, founding Berwick Universal Pictures in London in 1980. He has made more than 30 films on six continents, often on controversial political and social themes, several of which have won major awards (International Emmy,[1] Royal Television Society,[2] Edward Morrow Prize,[3] Amnesty International Prize,[4] etc.) Yule's film work has evolved from observational documentary and biography, through polemical "essays", to drama. He is also a teacher.

Life and work[edit]

Yule was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 22 June 1956. His family emigrated to England when he was 8 years old. He studied at Aldenham School and PPE at Oxford University.

He first found an outlet for photography while studying at Oxford University, documenting the early work of contemporaries Rowan Atkinson, Richard Curtis and others of that generation. After leaving university he became a freelance photojournalist and, following work in Peru from 1979 onwards, a book of his photographs titled "The New Incas" was published in 1983 by The New Pyramid Press.

Photography in Peru was the subject of his first documentary film, 'Martin Chambi and the Heirs of the Incas' (1986), made for the BBC's Arena strand, which depicts the life, times, and contemporary relevance of that great Cusqueña photographer of the early 20th century. This was the first of half a dozen documentaries Yule made in Peru over the next two decades, and the start of an award-winning collaboration with the Producer Andy Harries.

In 1990 Yule made "Trains That Passed In The Night", a lyrical film about another photographer, the American O. Winston Link, a subject whose troubled personal story he was to return to and re-assess fifteen years later in "The Photographer, His Wife, Her Lover" (2005).

In 1991-92 Yule's Emmy Award-winning Channel 4 documentary "Damned In The USA",[5] a film about censorship and the arts in the United States which features Rev. Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association, became embroiled in a landmark legal dispute. Though the film had already won the International Emmy, Wildmon and the AFA sued Yule, his co-producer Jonathan Stack, and Channel 4 for $8 million in an attempt to stop the distribution of the film, describing it as "blasphemous and obscene". Yule and his co-defendants fought the lawsuit in court in Mississippi and won the legal right to freely exhibit the film. Lou Reed re-wrote the lyrics to his classic Walk On The Wild Side in support of the case.

The subject matter of Yule's films has included history, politics, religion, sport, and the arts. He has collaborated with several writers, including with Nicholas Shakespeare on films about Mario Vargas Llosa (1990) and Bruce Chatwin (1999); with Peter Oborne on exposés of Robert Mugabe (2003) and the conspiracy surrounding the cricketer Basil D'Oliveira (2004); as well as with Darcus Howe, Miranda Sawyer, Paul Morley and others. He has also made a number of films in war zones - notably "Babitski's War" (2000, in Chechnya), "The House of War" (2002, in Afghanistan), "Mugabe's Secret Famine" (2003, in Zimbabwe), and "Here's One We Invaded Earlier" (2003, in Afghanistan). Producers with whom he has had notable collaborations over the years include Jonathan Stack, George Carey, Roy Ackerman, Samir Shah and Markus Davies.

In 2008 Yule returned to South Africa to complete a three-film 60-year history of apartheid and its consequences ("White Lies" 1994 - about the International Defence and Aid Fund;[6] "The Basil D'Oliveira Conspiracy" 2004; and "The Captain and the Bookmaker" 2008 - the latter two of which focus on the political history of South Africa as seen through the prism of cricket, including the downfall of Hansie Cronje).

In 2011 he was invited to teach for a year at The University of Cape Town. He originated "The Big Picture", an intensive, hands-on film production course aimed at training a new generation of filmmakers and technicians to make fresh, socially relevant, local programming. In conjunction with this, Yule was strategically involved in the re-launch of Cape Town's community television station, CTV.

In 2013 he made a 13-part documentary reality series about education in South Africa, titled "Dream School SA".[7]

Paul Yule is married to the cartoonist Denise Dorrance.


  • 'Martin Chambi and the Heirs of the Incas' (1986)
  • 'Our God the Condor' (1987)
  • 'Iquitos' (1988)
  • 'Mario Vargas Llosa: The Story of the Novelist Who Would Be President' (1990)
  • 'O Winston Link: Trains that Passed in the Night' (1990)
  • 'Damned in the USA' (1991)
  • 'As American as Apple Pie' (1992)
  • 'Good Morning Mr Hitler!' (1993)
  • 'White Lies' (1994)
  • 'Return to the Sacred Ice' (1994)
  • 'Geiger Sweet Geiger Sour' (1995)
  • 'Elgar's Tenth Muse' (1996)
  • 'Lone Star Hate' (1997)
  • 'In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin' (1999)
  • 'Welcome to Armageddon' (1999)
  • 'Babitsky's War' (2000)
  • 'Battle for the Holocaust' (2001)
  • 'Marquis de Sade — Pornographer or Prophet?' (2001)
  • 'The House of War' (2002)
  • 'Mugabe's Secret Famine' (2003)
  • 'Afghanistan — Here's One We Invaded Earlier' (2003)
  • 'Not Cricket: The Basil D'Oliveira Conspiracy' (2004)
  • 'The Last Waterloo Cup' (2005)
  • 'The Photographer, His Wife, Her Lover' (2005)
  • 'Is This My Country?' (2006)
  • 'A Matter of Life and Death' (2007)
  • 'Not Cricket 2: The Captain and The Bookmaker' (2008)
  • 'Black Star — An African Football Odyssey' (2008)
  • 'How To Be A Composer' (2009)
  • 'God Don't Live Here Anymore?' (2010)
  • 'Derek Parker - A Life in Architecture' (2011)
  • 'Dream School SA' (2013)
  • 'Spring Queen' (2014)


  1. ^ Damned In The USA - Berwick Universal Pictures 1990
  2. ^ a) The House of War, Berwick Universal Pictures 2002 and b) Not Cricket - The Basil D'Oliveira Conspiracy 2004
  3. ^ The House of War, 2002
  4. ^ Babitsky's War, 2000
  5. ^ "'Damned in the USA'". 1993-01-29. Retrieved 2014-02-07. 
  6. ^ "African Activist Archive". 1966-03-18. Retrieved 2014-02-07. 
  7. ^ Broadcast on M-Net and SABC2 and sponsored by MySchool and Woolworths

External links[edit]