Leena Pendharkar is an award-winning writer and director. She premiered her sophomore feature film, 20 Weeks, at the Los Angeles Film Festival.


It played in festivals all over the country, won the Best Feature Film Award at the Maryland Film Festival, the Best Editing Award at the Tallgrass Film Festival, was selected as one of the best independent films of 2017 by Film Threat, and was described as an “intimate, compassionate take on abortion” by the Los Angeles Times.

20 Weeks is based, in part, on the true story of Leena's second pregnancy, and is about a young couple faced with some tough decisions after they learn that their baby is found to have a serious health issue during a routine scan. It takes an intimate, humanistic look at the couple's ups and downs.


The film stars Amir Arison (NBC’s Blacklist) and Anna Margaret Hollyman (Sleeping with Other People). It was released theatrically in 10 cities in April of 2018, and is now available on Hulu, Amazon, iTunes and a number of other platforms.


Leena is currently a part of the CBS Directing Initiative, and is shadowing on a number of shows. She also recently participated in the NBC/Universal Emerging Director's program, and shadowed on The Sinner. Leena has also shadowed on Charmed, and was in the Sony Diverse Director's program, as well as the DGA DDI program.

She has directed a number of short films including the recently completed Awaken, starring Parminder Nagra, Vee Kumari and Seamus Dever. Leena also directed Scrap, starring Vivian Kerr and Anthony Rapp, which won the “Best Director” award at the First Glance Film Festival, and has played in festivals all over the country and won numerous awards. She also wrote and directed Dandekar Makes a Sandwich, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Indian Film Festival of LA, and was selected as a Vimeo Staff pick.

Leena’s first feature film, Raspberry Magic, starring Bella Thorne and Alison Brie, about a young girl trying to save her struggling family, won several awards, played in festivals all over the country, and was distributed on Starz and Hulu initially, and is now available on Amazon Prime.

She is also a prolific screenwriter, and adapted the Ursula K. Le Guin novel The Telling for producer Riz Virk, and is slated to direct it. Her script, Days with Dandekar, was workshopped in the FIND Screenwriting Lab and was selected for the Tribeca All Access program.

Leena earned her Master's of Journalism, with an emphasis on Documentary Filmmaking from UC-Berkeley, and got her start in media writing for a number of news outlets, then working as a web designer, then later as a production assistant and coordinator on independent films and commercials.


Leena has also taught film/media making at a variety of institutions from LACMA, Berkeley City College, to Otis College of Art and Design and UCLA Extension. She is currently an Assistant Professor at Loyola Marymount University, in the Production Department.

She is an active member of the DGA, Film Fatales and the Alliance of Women Directors. Leena is represented by Jennifer Au at Untitled Management and Michael Kolodny at The Kaplan Stahler Agency.​

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