Vanja Aljinovic, a first assistant director who worked on Oscar foreign-language film winner “No Man’s Land,” died Monday, Feb. 15, in Santa Fe, N.M., after a car accident on the campus of Sante Fe Community College, where Aljinovic taught film. He was 64.
Danis Tanovic’s “No Man’s Land” won the Oscar for foreign-language film in 2002.
Aljinovic came to New Mexico in 1989 to work on Terence Hill’s Italian film “Lucky Luke,” starring Hill and Nancy Morgan, and moved to the state in the early ’90s.
Born in Croatia, Aljinovic learned his craft through apprenticeship in Yugoslavia. In 1974 he was assistant director on the erotic comedy “Score,” directed by Radley Metzger.
He worked on Rajko Grlic’s 1978 film “Bravo Maestro,” a Serbian-language film that was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Credits during the 1980s include “How I Was Systematically Destroyed by an Idiot” and “Journey to the South.”
Later work as a first a.d. on pics included 1994’s “Before the Rain,” which was Oscar nominated for foreign-language film; Julie Taymor’s 1999 Shakespeare adaptation “Titus”; “The Tao of Steve”; “Tortilla Heaven”; and, last year, Macedonian pic “The War Is Over.”
Discussing his work on “No Man’s Land,” about two soldiers from opposing sides trapped together during the Bosnian War, Aljinovic said at the time: “My biggest dilemma became finding ways to shoot around the sun. All the action takes place in one day, so the problem of how best to use the midday time — when the sun made it impossible to shoot exteriors — became my ongoing challenge.”
Since 2004 Aljinovic had taught pre-production, production and acting for film at the Institute for American Indian Art and at Santa Fe Community College.
He continued to evaluate scripts, develop breakdowns and shooting schedules for movies internationally.
Aljinovic is survived by his wife, costume designer Jasminka “Mina” Jesic, and three children.