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. In addition to his photography, he has directed 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.) He founded the production company Berwick Universal Pictures in London in 1980.

Life and work[edit]

Paul Yule was born in Johannesburg, South Africa[5] and his family emigrated to England when he was 8 years old. He went to Aldenham School and then studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at Oxford University.

His first outlet for photojournalism was while at University working for the magazine Isis, and documenting the early theatre work of contemporaries Rowan Atkinson, Richard Curtis and others of that generation. After leaving Oxford he formed Berwick Universal Pictures with Chris Plytas, working from a basement studio in Berwick Street. In 1980 he did the photography for Rowan Atkinson's Live in Belfast album and, following several visits to Peru, his book "The New Incas" (with an Introduction by John Hemming) was published in 1983 by The New Pyramid Press and exhibited widely.[6]

Photography in Peru became 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, whose troubled personal story he was to return to and re-assess fifteen years later in "The Photographer, His Wife, Her Lover" (2005).[7]

In 1991-92 Yule's Emmy Award-winning Channel 4 documentary "Damned In The USA",[8] 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, education, 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. In 2003 he directed an acclaimed drama about Sir Edward Elgar, "Elgar's Tenth Muse" starring James Fox and written by Nigel Gearing. He has also made a number of films in war zones, often shooting his own material - 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 have included 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;[9] "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 filmmaking for a year at The University of Cape Town. While there he originated "The Big Picture", an intensive, hands-on documentary 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 and 2015 he directed two seasons of "Dream School SA", an acclaimed reality series about education in South Africa.[10] He is now developing a number of projects, including a feature film about Basil D'Oliveira, and working on a photographic retrospective.

Paul Yule is married to the cartoonist Denise Dorrance and has four children.


  • '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 - Season 1' (2013)
  • 'Spring Queen' (2014)
  • 'Dream School SA - Season 2' (2015)
  • 'All Out In Pakistan - The Wounded Tiger's Tour' (2015)


  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. ^ 22 June 1956
  6. ^ including at The Side Gallery and The Royal Geographical Society
  7. ^
  8. ^ "'Damned in the USA'". 1993-01-29. Retrieved 2014-02-07. 
  9. ^ "African Activist Archive". 1966-03-18. Retrieved 2014-02-07. 
  10. ^ Broadcast on M-Net and SABC2 and sponsored by MySchool and Woolworths

External links[edit]