Nikolai Anatol'evich Izvolov was born in Kostroma in 1962. In 1985 he graduated from the scriptwriting-film scholar department of the State Institute for Filmmaking (VGIK). He was the academic editor of Veniamin Vishnevskii’s catalog of pre-Revolutionay documentary films (1996). Between 1991 and 1996 he worked at the Eisenstein Museum as the head of the sector for non-feature films and deputy director of research. He was the vice provost of research and scholarship at VGIK (1996-7). Since 1997 he has been at the Institute for Cinema Studies as the director of the sector of domestic cinema (renamed the Historical-Theoretical sector). Starting in the 1990s he has taught at VGIK and the Advanced Courses for Scriptwriters and Directors.
At the Institute for Cinema Studies he has worked on computer reconstructions of “lost” films; these include Leninist KinoTruth (1996), Hold that Thief! (1998), Tit, or the Tale of a Big Spoon (2000), Engineer Prait’s Project (2001), Alcoholism and its Consequences (2001); Mishki Against Iudenich, On the Red Front, The Marriage, and Dokhunda (all 2006); The Country-House Husband and Lawlessness (both 2010). Together with Natasha Drubek he has created HYPERKINO, a method of providing commentary about films using digital technology. He is the author of The Phenomenon of Cinema: History and Theory (2001). He was named Best Film Scholar of the Year in 2001 by Gosfilmofond.