Andrea Gorfolova Elizabeth Grant Entrepreneur Award
Born and raised in Communist Slovakia, Andrea Gorfolova left her family and fled the country at the age of eighteen on one of two flights a year that flew to Cuba. When the aircraft stopped to refuel in Montreal, she got off the plane and requested refugee status. With the equivalent of only $20.00 in her pocket and no knowledge of the language, she took odd jobs working nights, and applied herself to learning English and French. After serving an internship with a financial company she became a research analyst for the highly respected consulting firm Brendan Wood International. Her responsibilities included advising foreign financial institutions entering into North American markets and creating strategies within the new territories.
Andrea's introduction to the entertainment industry came as a result of her work in the financial sector and through her husband who was directing and writing for a radio station when they met. Her first job outside the financial industry was in finance for an animation company where she learned about the world of international co-production and the overall structure of entertainment financing.
Andrea founded Tricon Films & Television in 2000 when a documentary series she pitched to Alliance Atlantis was picked up for development. From an initial four-person staff, Tricon has become one of Canada's most successful independently owned and fastest growing television production and distribution companies producing an average of ten series a year in a mixture of factual, scripted and kids programming genres for a vast number of channels in Canada and the USA. Tricon's international distribution began nine years ago, first representing in-house produced rights-owned material and now representing 1600 hours of programming where the majority is third-party produced.
With offices in Toronto and Los Angeles, Tricon is recognized at the highest distribution levels not only in North America but also in the UK where the company has had a presence for several years.
As the founder and sole owner of Tricon Films & Television, Andrea's formal training in international finance has brought an important mix of business and creativity to the firm. She has significantly contributed to overall strategic and creative direction of the company and has been instrumental in navigating Tricon through the rapidly changing programming demands and industry trends. Presently, she is heading Tricon in a new direction as significant financing has been raised to further build up its international distribution division through deficit financing and corporate acquisitions. She also serves as Executive Producer on many critically acclaimed series and documentaries.
Andrea has been married for 13 years to Jameel Bharmal, and the couple has one son, six-year old Ishq. In addition to leading Tricon Films & Television, Andrea supports many charities and organizations both financially and through volunteer work. Her philanthropic work includes Doctors w/o Borders, Venice family Clinic, Canadian Screen Institute, Telefilm Canada, Woman in Cable Telecomunications, International Family Film Festival, Education Through Media, Woman Make Movies.
For her courage in fleeing a restrictive regime and triumph in overcoming extraordinary obstacles and building a successful international film and television production and distribution company, Andrea Gorfolova is receiving TheWIFTS Foundation 2012 Elizabeth Grant Entrepreneur Award.