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 upcoming series, Hello Jack! The Kindness Show! for Apple TV+. She was also 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 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 20 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 also recently directed the short film, Awaken, starring Parminder Nagra, Vee Kumari and Seamus Dever. It's screened in a number of film festivals, including the Oscar Qualifying, Hollyshorts, Cinequest and the Los Angeles Asian Film Festival. The piece was recently curated as the Short of the Day on Shorted and Retrospective of Jupiter. Parminder Nagra also won a Best Actress Award at the South African Independent Film Festival for her work on Awaken.
Other short films include, 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 Scrap, for which she won a Best Director Award at the First Glance Film Festival.
Leena is also a prolific screenwriter, and adapted the Ursula K. Le Guin novel The Telling for producer Riz Virk. Her script, Days with Dandekar, was workshopped in the FIND Screenwriting Lab and was selected for the Tribeca All Access program.
She is currently an Assistant Professor at Loyola Marymount University, in the Film & Television Production Department. Leena is an active member of the DGA, Film Fatales and the Alliance of Women Directors. She is represented by Jennifer Au Management, and Michael Kolodny at The Kaplan Stahler Agency.