Enzian Forever Project Takes Shape, President Details What It Means For Community & Staff

    Enzian & Florida Film Festival President Henry Maldonado sits down with us to discuss the fundraising, construction and more surrounding the Enzian Forever expansion.


    By Jacob Engels


    At this point, we know that Enzian is expanding after 30 years of success. But how long have they been thinking about doing so…what should we expect…and will it impact our experience at the Maitland based art-house cinema in the meantime?


    Henry Maldonado, who serves as the President of the Enzian and Florida Film Festival was kind enough to sit down with us and answer those questions. Check it out…and try to sneak away a few bucks in the meantime to dedicate towards Enzian Forever.


    Our Q&A with Mr. Maldonado is below –


    What have you done to gather the funding you have already secured? Are you running the donation like a politician would by hosting fundraisers with high-level donors, while also pushing small dollar donations online?


    The idea about expanding has been around for a long time, maybe ten years. Real hardcore discussion has gone on for the last two years. In that time period we have really gone past wondering if we should and knowing that we have to.


    Do you have different donor perks for those wishing to contribute? How are these perks organized and when will they be realized for funders?


    We started with our core support system, the usual suspects if you will – the ones who fund the arts and those who have a love for movies. That group helped us raise the $3.6 million dollars we have secured so far.


    Now, we are going after everyone and really opening up the donor process to those who wish to donate $5 or $150,000. Knowing our customers and members, I am confident that we can close the gap and fund the remaining $2.4 million, through both large and small donations.


    This really acts as a fundraiser, but also as a sign of the communities belief in us – through whatever investment they invest.


    Those who contribute to the project will have the benefit of realizing the completion of the expansion and all that the expansion has to offer. The option for us to host multiple films at once, quicker service with the expanded kitchen and more parking.


    More theaters allow us to host a more diverse lineup. We will be able to run films that may be able to film our new 50 and 80 seat theaters, but not the main theater. With the expansion, we can let films like Birdman shine in the larger theater…while also showcasing smaller films and specials like a Hitchcock weekend or hidden/lost films in the smaller theaters. Maybe even a Best of Netflix night.


    Central Florida is missing an African American film festival or Gay & Lesbian film festival and Hispanic film festivals.


    Alternatively, if someone wants to have the bathroom named after them or something like that…we are open to the idea of providing rewards to donors along those lines.


    Timeline. Ideally, when would you like to secure the remaining $2.4 million? When would construction begin, and how long would it take?


    We are very optimistic and hope to start construction before the end of the year. The architects tell us it will be one year from that date that everything will be complete and operational.


    I believe that our initial funding was very targeted and believe we have significant potential to collect more high-dollar donations. We have 100,000+ people come through here annually…think about if all those people gave $2 towards the expansion or if half of that gave us $5 – the donor base is there.


    In comparison to other projects you see around town, we are asking for a lot less. However, $6 million dollars means so much to Enzian and our ability to serve our customers and community.


    When it comes to day to day expenses, Enzian is self-sustainable absent of this funding for the expansion – meaning that we will be using these donations exclusively for improvements that better serve the community.


    We don’t have $2.4 million in our pocket, but we will be just fine. Think about the long-term implications of these improvements…they will be realized by your kids and their children.


    What plans are being put in place to insure that the expansion does not negatively impact regular programming and hallmark events like the Florida Film Festival?


    Our Florida Film Festival staff and those dedicated to similar events have stayed focused on their responsibilities. We are not diverting any attention from staff to help with fundraising, with the exception of our public relations team…and the Enzian Forever project falls under their already determined purview.


    As far as how construction goes, we are working to make sure that most if not all improvements provide minimal disturbance to guests. You might see a truck bring in supplies or someone working on the grounds…but we are not going to let that change the experience people have become accustomed to at Enzian.


    To learn more about Enzian Forever, view this exclusive 2-minute video from the theater explaining what it will mean for you and me.



    Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post & Seminole County Post. He is a seasoned political operative who has led numerous statewide political groups and has worked on several high-profile local, statewide, and national races. Jacob has been interviewed on national television & radio programs, with his work having been featured in the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and other publications nationwide. He can be reached at info@eastorlandopost.com