Paul Yule (photojournalist)

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Paul Yule

Paul Harris Yule (born 1956)[1] is a photojournalist[2] and film maker.[3] 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, including an International Emmy (for Damned in the USA - Berwick Universal Pictures, 1990),[4] awards from the Royal Television Society,[n 1] an Edward Morrow Prize,[n 2] and an Amnesty International Prize.[n 3] He founded the production company Berwick Universal Pictures in London in 1980.

Life and work[edit]

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

His first outlet for photojournalism was working for the Oxford University magazine Isis, and documenting the early theatre work of contemporaries Rowan Atkinson, Richard Curtis and others of that generation.[5] After leaving Oxford in 1979, Yule went to Peru for eight months working as photographer on The Cusichaca Project near Cusco. In 1980 he founded Berwick Universal Pictures with photographer Chris Plytas, working from a basement studio in Berwick Street, London, and that same year he did the photography and design for Rowan Atkinson's Live in Belfast album. In 1983, following several further visits to Peru, his book The New Incas[6] (with an introduction by John Hemming) was published by The New Pyramid Press and the photographs were exhibited widely, including at Side Gallery in Newcastle, the Royal Geographical Society and The Photographers' Gallery in London.[citation needed]

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 great photographer, the American O. Winston Link, whose troubled personal story he was to return to and re-assess[7] 15 years later in The Photographer, His Wife, Her Lover (2005).[8]

In 1991-92 Yule's Channel 4 documentary Damned in the USA,[4] a film about censorship and the arts in the US that 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.[9] 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, Luke Holland 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), Here's One We Invaded Earlier (2003, in Afghanistan) and All Out In Pakistan (2017, in Pakistan). Producers with whom he has collaborated include Jonathan Stack, George Carey, Roy Ackerman, Samir Shah and Markus Davies.

In 2008 Yule completed a three-film 60-year history of apartheid in South Africa and its consequences (White Lies, 1994 - about the International Defence and Aid Fund;[10] The Basil D'Oliveira Conspiracy, 2004; and The Captain and the Bookmaker, 2008[11]– 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).[12]

In 2011 he was invited to teach filmmaking 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 he was centrally involved in the re-launch of Cape Town's community television station, CTV. In 2013 and 2015 he directed and was show-runner on two seasons of Dream School SA, a reality series about education in South Africa.[n 4]

Recent films include All Out In Pakistan (BBC, 2017) - structured around Peter Oborne's "Wounded Tiger" cricket tours, it looks at the relationship of cricket to politics in Pakistan - and The Life of Jo Menell (2019), a film about the iconoclastic activist filmmaker, which received its World Premiere at The Encounters Documentary Film Festival.[13]

In 2021 a retrospective of his photography, "My Developing Eye", was published.

Yule is married to the cartoonist Denise Dorrance and has four children.[citation needed]


  • 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 do not 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 (2017)
  • The Life of Jo Menell - Americans, Mongrels & Funky Junkies (2019)


  1. ^ a) The House of War, Berwick Universal Pictures, 2002 and b) Not Cricket - The Basil D'Oliveira Conspiracy, 2004.
  2. ^ The House of War, 2002
  3. ^ Babitsky's War, 2000
  4. ^ Broadcast on M-Net and SABC2


  1. ^ "Paul Yule (British, born 1956) (Photographer)", Prints & Photographs Online Catalog, The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs (New York Library).
  2. ^ "Maximum cool: Paul Yule's photojournalism casts creative figures in a new light « Paul Gorman is…".
  3. ^ "Paul Yule". BFI.
  4. ^ a b Hal Hinson (29 January 1993). "Damned in the USA". Washington Post. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  5. ^ "The Emerging Genius of Rowan Atkinson - Photographs by Paul Yule".
  6. ^ "The new Incas / / Paul Yule ; introduction by John Hemming". Library of Congress.
  7. ^ Schrodt, Paul (26 July 2006). "Review: The Photographer, His Wife, Her Lover". Slant Magazine.
  8. ^ Mark Feeney, "Documentary is a complex tale of grand theft photo", Boston Globe, 15 December 2006.
  9. ^ "Media: Banned and damned in the USA: John Willis of Channel 4 explains". The Independent. 5 August 1992. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022.
  10. ^ "International Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa". African Activist Archive. 18 March 1966. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  11. ^ "Hansie: The story never dies". 6 June 2008.
  12. ^ Steve Newall, "Interview: Paul Yule, Director of Cricket Doco 'The Captain and the Bookmaker'", Flicks, 10 November 2016.
  13. ^ "Americans, Mongrels & Funky Junkies".

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