Making sense of murder

CONTROL: In a violent society, Serbian director Filip Čolović seeks to make sense of his brother's murder.

In Recipe For Hate, Filip Čolović is on mission to make sense of the murder of his younger brother nearly a decade ago. Engaging and disturbing in equal degrees, the film is as much as plea for humanity to live life rather than project its pain through fear or anger at others.

As Filip delves into the reasons why his brother Fedor was beaten to death at the age of 29 – he plumbs the depths of Serbian society and its history as part of Yugoslavia, and its role in a century of violence.

Recipe For Hate, a film by Filip Čolović
Recipe For Hate, a film by Filip Čolović

A century at war

Serbia began the 20th century at war – it lost a third of its population during the WW I – ended it with a bitter civil war and, later in 1999, the bombing of Belgrade by NATO, seeking to end Milosevic’s brutal war on Kosovo.

For those looking for a broader societal or psychological basis for man’s propensity to inflict harm on others, this is not the film for them. Čolović keeps his focus narrowly on Serbian society and history, employing plenty of archive footage of the former Yugoslavia and its descent into civil war with neighbours Bosnia and Croatia.

In a film that is essentially about the director’s quest to find some sense in his grief, he makes effective use of old photo slide shows, animated interludes that include a darkly humorous «How to avoid becoming a victim of violence: everyday instruction manual» and a mini mockumentary on how Serbian criminals game the legal system to avoid doing time for murder (it does not help that a statute of limitations on violent crimes sets a definite cut off date for pursuing perpetrators).

A repeated image – that of Fedor seen in a childhood photo as a plump baby boy with a round face being cared for by his older brother, six years his senior – maintains the thread of the story as Filip digresses on his search for answers.

Čolović also makes effective use of CC TV footage from the club, recorded at the time of his brother’s death, as well as extensive TV and amateur footage of the sort of casual violence that continues to grip Serbia to this day.

For those looking for a broader societal or psychological basis for man’s propensity to inflict harm on others, this is not the film for them.

Key characters

Fedor is not the only key character, though the film is dedicated . . .

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Nick Holdsworth
Our regular critic. Journalist, writer, author. Works mostly from Central and Eastern Europe and Russia.
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