Penelope Buitenhuis grew up in Toronto. British immigrants to Canada, her father was a writer and professor, her mother an artist and administrator. After graduating with honors, Penelope studied art history and film history at UBC in Vancouver. Moving to Paris, she began making experimental films, returning to attend the Simon Fraser University film program in Vancouver. Completing four shorts and a degree, she relocated to Paris, then Berlin where she wrote and directed radical short films in super 8 and 16mm. Known in the underground film scene in Europe and North America, her shorts were screened world wide at festivals and alternative cinemas. Her film "Llaw" (Wall spelt backwards) garnered critical attention at the Berlin Film Festival as the first film about the fall of the wall.