What is a Film Festival?


Henry Loves to Talk About the Enzian

After watching the sneak preview of Don’t Let Me Drown, Number One son and I sat down with Henry Maldonado, the President of the Enzian Theatre and the Florida Film Festival to ask him what he wanted the public to know about film festivals. 

Like Enzian General Manager, Chris Blanc, his first reaction was to help me understand exactly what a film festival is: 

“Too many film festivals have become a marketplace,” Henry explains, lamenting the fact that at Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals, too many filmmakers are working to secure a deal to get their independent film released to a wider audience and not really having the time to enjoy the festival. 

“At the Enzian,” he goes on, “it’s become a place where people come to interact with one another.  This is where they come for friendships.  There’s not a desperation to make a deal.  Filmmakers come to show you their film.  The deal making is important, but they come here for friendship.” 

“Is there anything you would like people to know about the Florida Film Festival?” I ask. 

“Yes,” Henry quickly replies, “Don’t be intimidated by the film festival.”  He continues to explain that when you come to a film festival movie, it is no different than going to any other movie.  The tickets are only $10.  The parking is right in front of the theatre.  You can even buy popcorn. 

“I’ve been a customer [of the Enzian] for nine years,” states Henry.  “My wife and I go out [to the Enzian]–sometimes for dinner and sometimes for the movie–but we always wind up enjoying dinner and enjoying a movie.” 

Prior to becoming President of the Enzian and Florida Film Festival, Henry was a board member of the Enzian for nine years.  During most of that time, he was also GM of WKMG, local Orlando Channel Six.  Before that, he worked as a documentary producer at WGBH, a public broadcasting station in Boston, as well as at WDIV in Detroit, WCBS & WNBC in New York and WBZ in Boston.  It was clear from our conversation that Henry loves film, loves filmmakers and loves the Enzian Theatre. 

Enzian and FFF President Henry Maldonado (left) and General Manager Chris Blanc

When I asked him if there was anything he wanted me to communicate with my readers that they might not know about the Enzian, he was quick to reel off a list: 

“We’re non-profit…The free Popcorn Flicks that play monthly in Winter Park…The Jewish Film Festival…The South Asian Film Festival…Enzian’s summer camp for the kids…The new, outdoor Eden Bar & Restaurant, attached to the Enzian Theatre, which features live music…We have a history of working with independent films… 

“Did you know that The Blair Witch Project was shown here, in this very theatre, for the very first time?” he exclaims as he sweeps his hands across the theatre. 

I knew that The Blair Witch Project was made by local, Orlando area filmmakers.  But I did not know that they screened the original movie at The Enzian and got feedback on it.  Henry explained that the original movie was three hours long and, based partly on the feedback they received, was cut back to its current length. 

According to Henry, the Enzian Theatre is a place to “watch movies, talk about movies and hang out at the bar.” 

Yes it is!  And when you do, see if Henry’s around.  He’s the kind of guy who would love to bend your ear and talk about his passions–like the Florida Film Festival, independent movies and the Enzian Theatre.  What a great combination.  For the lucky readers of my blog searching for “more than a mouse”™ the Enzian Theatre is a great place to discover.

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