Leena Pendharkar is an award-winning writer and director. She premiered her sophomore feature film, 20 Weeks, at the Los Angeles Film Festival. Based, in part, on her own story, it is about a couple that must make some tough decisions after their baby is diagnosed with a serious health condition at 20 weeks in utero.
20 Weeks 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. It was distributed in theaters and on Hulu, and is now available on a number of platforms.
Leena recently made her foray into television, with directing two episodes of the series, Hello Jack! The Kindness Show! for Apple TV+. She also recently co-wrote and directed a thriller for Mar Vista Entertainment, A Date with Deception, to be released on the Lifetime Network, in February of 2023. Leena has also been part of several studio initiatives to direct for television, including the Warner Brothers Television Directing Workshop, the CBS Directing Initiative, as well as the NBC/Universal Emerging Director's program, and Sony Diverse Directors.
Her other recent work includes the short film, Awaken, starring Parminder Nagra, Vee Kumari and Seamus Dever. It screened in a number of film festivals, and Parminder Nagra won a Best Actress Award for her work, at the South African Independent Film Festival.The piece was curated as the Short of the Day on Shorted and Retrospective of Jupiter.
Her first feature film, Raspberry Magic, a coming of age story about a young girl trying to hold her family together amidst financial hardships, played in many festivals, and was distributed on Hulu and Starz, and is now available on Apple TV+, Amazon Prime and other platforms.
Her short film 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. She also directed the short film Scrap, which won a Best Director Award at the First Glance Film Festival and played in many festivals.
Leena is also a prolific screenwriter, she adapted the Ursula Le Guin novel, The Telling, for Bayview PIctures, and her feature script, Days with Dandekar, was selected for Tribeca All Access. She is consistently developing new material, and is currently completing her MFA in Screenwriting, at UC-Riverside's Low Residency Creative Writing program.
She is an Associate Professor at Loyola Marymount University's School of Film and Television, where she teaches film production. Leena is represented by Michael Kolodny at The Kaplan Stahler Literary Agency.