Werner Penzel was born in 1950 and grew up in the countryside in the South of Germany. In the 1960s, he was engaged primarily with music and poetry, in the early 1970s, his interest became fully focused on filmmaking. He studied at the Munich Film School, he cooperated with the Brazilian Theatre Company Oficina and travelled in South America, North Africa, India and Japan. After his succesfful films Vagabunden Karawane(1980), Adios Al Odio (1986) and others, he and author, film director and fellow traveler Nicolas Humbert founded the production company CineNomad in 1987. Their first major project was the music film Step Across the Border about English composer Fred Frith. Rather than a traditional portrait, the film represents a hymn on the process of creativity and the spirit of inventiveness. Premiered in 1990, the film earned international attention and received awards at numerous film festivals. In 2000, critics from the Cahier du Cinéma magazine ranked it among hundred most significant films of the 20th century.