Toni Kurkimäki, the director of film Lapua 1976, is SeAMK's Alumnus of the Year 2023

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Toni Kurkimäki is SeAMK's Alumnus of the Year 2023.

Toni Kurkimäki has been chosen as the Alumnus of the Year 2023 of the Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences. Kurkimäki studied in the group of the first people who studied in the field of culture at SeAMK in 2002–2006. After graduating, he has worked in a variety of jobs in the cultural fields. Kurkimäki left his strong handprint to the cultural year of both South Ostrobothnia and the whole of Finland by directing the film Lapua 1976, which premiered at the beginning of September and has already gathered around 170,000 viewers.

The choice of SeAMK’s Alumnus of the Year 2023 was influenced by the relevance of work in graduate’s own field, interaction with the university and the promotion of higher education, as well as making the region known and active development.
Toni Kurkimäki is an entrepreneur who has developed the skills of trainees and given opportunities to participate in the making of a film. Several SeAMK students and also SeAMK staff were involved in the production of the Lapua 1976 film. With his film, Kurkimäki has brought out the region in a positive light. Making a long fictional film with a budget of more than one million euros speaks of long-term work, commitment and a developing approach, which is needed for the success of the project. After his studies, Kurkimäki has worked, among other things, as a teacher at SeAMK and Vaasa Vocational Institute, as a project manager at Rytmi Institute and as a DJ.

The film project challenged long-term development

The film Lapua 1976 was also a big subject for its director personally. In the production itself, the first challenge was getting the financing together. Both Kurkimäki and the rest of the film’s core team believed in making it, which in addition to Kurkimäki includes Pekka Pohjoispää, and Tuukka Haapamäki, the screenwriter of the Lapua 1976 film and a fellow student from the SeAMK days, as well as Mikko Jokipii, the event producer. Together, they founded the production company Blankface, with which the film was realised.

“The film project taught me that if you want to accomplish big things, you must not stop at any point, you have to keep going. You just have to believe in it and do things in such a way that things go forward,” says Kurkimäki.
He had taken good lessons from his studies at SeAMK, which he has been able to utilise in his working life as well. Among them, he highlights the management of people, skills related to which he already learned during his studies. For the future, Blankface has many ideas that will proceed on their own schedule.

“You have to know how to work with people and lead in such a way that people get involved and enthusiasm spreads to the whole group. Here at SeAMK, it was always a good feeling to do things both as a student and as an employee, so let’s keep the same direction in the future – it’s nice to study and work here”, Kurkimäki praises.

SeAMK’s Alumnus of the Year was chosen for the third time now. In the past, Iiro Takala, Bachelor of Business Administration, and Le Anh, Bachelor of Health Care, Nursing, have received the tribute.

SeAMK congratulates the Alumnus of the Year 2023 and the entire Blankface film production team!


The criteria for SeAMK’s Alumnus of the Year are:

  • Graduated from the degree programme at SeAMK
  • Does meaningful work in his/her field
  • Contributes to the interaction between working life and higher education
  • Brings out SeAMK and SeAMK-spirit in a positive way

A special criterion that changes every year, which can be considered an advantage in the selection:

  • In 2023: active development
    • Active development means that a person has planned and implemented measures related to the development of an area or community


Image: Annemari Keltamäki / SeAMK