Tokyo Girls
Tokyo Girls
Tokyo Girls

Hostesses in the Floating World

With a pulsating visual style, this feature documentary captures the raw energy of urban Japan and the fascination of western women lured by fast money to work as hostesses in exclusive nightclubs.

A one-hour documentary
Directed by Penelope Buitenhuis
Produced by Gillian Darling Kovanic

TOKYO GIRLS | Watch Film

(2000) Running time: 57:11

This feature documentary is a candid journey into the world of 4 young Canadian women who work as well-paid hostesses in exclusive Japanese nightclubs. Lured by adventure and easy money, these modern-day geisha find themselves caught up in the mizu shobai - the complex "floating water world" of Tokyo clubs and bars. Drawn by fast money, some women become consumed by the lavish lifestyle and forget why they came. One hostess calls it "losing the plot." With a pulsating visual style, Tokyo Girls captures the raw energy of urban Japan and its fascination with the new.

The Waiting Room

Made as part of the Crazy 8's experiment, this haunting eight-minute short in black and white follows a dying teen girl's last days in the "waiting room" — the critical care unit of Sick Kids' Hospital — as she tries to get a letter to her estranged mother before she dies.

Based on a short story from Nichole McGill's book 13 Cautionary Tales.

Crazy 8s is sponsored by the DGC, BC District Council with the Union of BC Performers. Five directors were challenged to prepare, shoot and edit a short film on digital in 8 days with only $800. The film made its debut at the 2001 Montreal World Film Festival and screened at The Berlin Film Festival in 35mm

Starring: Gabrielle Rose, Colleen Rennison, Jennifer Calvert, Ian Tracey and Susan Hogan


B&W 16MM, 1991 | Produced and directed by Penelope Buitenhuis

An expressionistic, visual interpretation of the poem "a dream of naming" by Vancouver poet/performance artist Judy Radul. A woman reflects on the plurality of her self-image. The act of defining her own identity elicits a collage of images from myth and memory. Colliding visions of a woman as Venus, the child, the grotesque, the lover, the rebel, the victim, and the poet defy us to examine our own contradictions.
"An extraordinarily beautiful, endlessly confrontational film"
-Toronto festival of festivals

Script written by Judy Radul and Penelope Buitenhuis | Cinematography: David Frazee | Editing and Sound by Bonni Devlin | Music by Numb Starring: Judy Radul, Morgan Frazier-Henry, Jani Engel | Voiceover: Judy Radul


9:05 min, 1990, 16mm

LLAW (wall spelled backwards) is a personal diary combining archive and documentary footage with metaphorical images to depict five days surrounding the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. The media portrayed it as a triumph of democracy, but was it not a triumph of capitalism? The East offered new markets and the wall was sold off like the pet rock of history. Llaw was the first film about this huge historical event to be screened at the Berlin Film Festival.

Llaw premiered at the 1990 Berlin Film festival to critical acclaim and won the Jury prize at the 1990 European Media Art festival in Osnabruck. It was shown at festivals in Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australia. Llaw premiered in Canada on WTN in 1992.

Written, directed, shot and edited by Penelope Buitenhuis
Sound by Kai Schoorman
Music by Sievert Johannsen
Produced by Jurgen Bruning and Penelope Buitenhuis
Actors: Michael Beckman, Ines Berthel and Frank Mahr
Voice: Yvonne Ducksworth

They Shoot Pigs Dont They? | Watch Film

1987, super-8/16mm

On a rampage against police brutality, Women Attack Pigs (WAP) and their coalition go after the cops internationally inspiring a slapstick, dreamed up revolution.

Disposable | Watch Film


Nomads of the underground question the value of history in a disposable culture.