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 theatrically and on Hulu, and is now available on amazon prime, and a number of other platforms.
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 over 30 festivals, including Cinequest, Hawaii Film festival, CAAMFest and The Los Angeles Asian Film Festival, and was distributed on Hulu and Starz, and is now available on Amazon Prime.
Leena has also directed a number of short films, including the recently completed Awaken, starring Parminder Nagra, Vee Kumari and Seamus Dever. She also directed Scrap, starring Vivian Kerr and Anthony Rapp, which won the “Best Director” award at the First Glance Film Festival, and played in many festivals. 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.
She has also recently been a part of several studio initiatives to direct for television, including the Warner Brothers Television Directing Workshop, the CBS Directing Initiative, the NBC/Universal Emerging Director's program, the Sony Diverse Director's Program, as well as the DGA DDI program.
Leena 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.
She 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.