Press Room

Media Release

Award-winning 10-part documentary “Return to Europe” now available online and on DVD and from 20 July in BR-alpha

12. January 2012

In summer and autumn 2008, the TV documentary “Return to Europe” invited television viewers in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland on a cinematic expedition through South Eastern Europe. The route leads trough Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey. What comprises the fascination of this polymorphic entity called “the Balkans”? What are the roots of its myths—including those distorted images that remain intact until today?

The documentary not only gets to the core of the problems in this region, but also shows the dramatic progress made over the past ten years. The films focus on those who fight to stabilize democratic values and shed the heritage of conflict, to create a new Balkans. “Return to Europe” is already a success story: in many countries, from Belgium to Spain, from Greece to Kosovo – single episodes were shown publically and discussed with the audience. The series was also presented at the “SOUTH EAST EUROPEAN FILM FESTIVAL LOS ANGELES 2009“. It was honored with the “Erasmus Euro Media Award 2008” for the most outstanding European media production. The episode “Turkey – Istanbul: Truth, fear and hope” was selected by the Turkish information office for tourism in Austria as the best report on Turkey in 2008. In addition, the series has been submitted to the “PRIX ITALIA 2009” and the “Mediterranean Journalist Award 2009”.

“The success of the TV series has shown that a great number of people in the former West are curious about their southeastern neighbor. Particularly the many young people there, their zest for action, energy, and dedication to a better future could be a role model for everyone nowadays in this universally trying era,”said Boris Marte, board member of the ERSTE Foundation, who provided the initiative to create the documentaries. The ambitious screenplays are based on research work by the European Stability Initiative (ESI). ORF, ORF/3sat, and pre tv co-produced the series. The DVD box set was a collaborative production by Hoanzl and DER STANDARD, who also contributed a text by Balkans expert Adelheid Wölfl for each episode. ORF – TV Culture Chief Martin Traxl is pleased: "This cinematic land survey has made the fascinating Balkan region accessible to a large audience and destroyed many clichés."

In addition, all episodes can be viewed via online-streaming on the website at:

That will certainly please Italy’s former President Giuliano Amato, who stated after a screening: "These are documentaries all citizens of the European Union should have the opportunity to see”.  EU-Expansion Commissionaire Olli Rehn praised the series as "a compelling documentary series about the Balkans and Turkey”.

The DVD collection “Return to Europe” is immediately available in stores for EUR 39.99 (recommended retail price) and can also be purchased directly through Hoanzl: 

Online at:
Per email:
Per telephone: 01-588 93 ext 11
Per fax: 01-588 93 ext 58

Screenings in BR-alpha – from 20 to 31 July

alpha-Österreich, the ORF-Programme in BR-alpha, the education channel of Bayrischer Rundfunk (Bavarian Broadcasting), shows all ten episodes of „Return to Europe“: Montenegro (20 July), Kosovo (21 July), Albania (22 July), Macedonia (23 July), Bosnia und Herzegovina (24 July), Serbia (27 July), Romania (28 July), Bulgaria (29 July), Greece (30 July) and Turkey (31 July) – starting at 21.00h.

Photo credits:
1. Filmstill, Return to Europe, Albania – The Albanian Renaissance
2. Filmstill, Return to Europe, Turkey – Istanbul: Truth, fear and hope
Print for reporting free of charge.


ERSTE Foundation, Communications
Maribel Königer, T +43 50100 15453, email:
Jovana Trifunović, T +43 5010015844, email: