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2023 Emmy Award Nominee, Hello Jack! The Kindness Show
2023, Best Actress Award, New Mexico Asian Film Festival, TINY JOY

2023, Best Actress Award, Montreal IntL. Film Festival, TINY JOY

2020, Best Actress, South African Indie Film Fest, AWAKEN

2019, Best Director, First Glance Film Festival, SCRAP

2018, Best Feature Film, Maryland InTL Film Festival, 20 Weeks

2017, Best Editing, Tallgrass Film Festival, 20 Weeks

2016, US in Progress, American Film Festival in Poland, for 20 Weeks

2016, Vimeo Staff Pick, Dandekar Makes a Sandwich

2015, Grand Jury Prize, IFFLA, Dandekar Makes a Sandwich

2010, Audience Award, Philly Asian Film Festival, Raspberry Magic


Television Directing:
2020, Warner Brothers Television Directing Workshop

2019, CBS Diverse Director’s Initiative

2019,  NBC Emerging Director’s Initiative

2019, DGA, DDI Program

2018, Sony Diverse Director’s Initiative

Screenwriting Fellowships:
2011, Tribeca All Access, Days with Dandekar

2010, Film Independent Screenwriting Lab, Days with Dandekar


Leena Pendharkar is an Emmy nominated, award-winning, director in film and television. Her work as a writer/director in independent film has been called, "heartfelt," "ground breaking," and "brave." She is passionate about telling cinematic stories that explore the human experience through compelling characters, and loves working collaboratively actors and other creatives.


Her most recent work is the television movie, A Date with Deception for Mar Vista/Lifetime, and two episodes of the kids’ show, Hello Jack!, for Apple TV+ for which she is nominated for a Children's and Family Emmy award. Leena is also an alum of the Warner Brothers, CBS, and Sony Diverse Directors programs.


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.

Other recent work includes the short film, Awaken, starring Parminder Nagra, Vee Kumari and Seamus Dever. 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 and is playing on a number of tv/digital platforms including, Cinedigm, CPics, Moodbox and more.


Her short film, Dandekar Makes a Sandwich, 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, for which she won a Best Director Award at the First Glance Film Festival. Her new short film, Tiny Joy, has been playing in festivals and has won two Best Actress Awards.

Raspberry Magic, Leena's first indie feature, a coming of age story about a young girl trying to hold her family together amidst financial hardships, played in many festivals, was distributed on Hulu and Starz, and is now available on Apple TV+, Amazon Prime and other platforms.

Her feature script, Days with Dandekar, was selected for the FIND Script Lab and Tribeca All Access, and is actively being developed toward production. She also adapted Ursula Le Guin's novel, The Telling, for the screen, for producer Riz Virk.

Leena is an Associate Professor at Loyola Marymount University's School of Film and Television, where she teaches filmmaking. She has an MFA in Screenwriting/Playwriting from the Low Residency program at UC-Riverside, and is a member of the DGA. She is represented by Michael Kolodny at The Kaplan Stahler Literary Agency and Dannie Festa at World Builder Entertainment.​

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