Ilia Nusinov was born in Kiev in 1920 into a Jewish family that belonged to the intelligentsia. His father Isaak was a famous professor, a philologist who specialized in the history of Jewish and West European literature. In 1922 the Nusinov family moved to Moscow. After graduating high school, Ilia entered the mechanics and mathematics faculty of Moscow State University. He had completed two years of study when the Soviet-German War began in June 1941. Ilia volunteered for front-line duty. However, he was soon called from the front and sent to the Zhukovskii Military Airforce Academy, which was often the case with students in scientific faculties who had not completed their studies. Nusinov graduated from the Academy with distinction as a military engineer. He served as a senior lieutenant-technician until the end of the war, having flown 765 combat missions in a IL-2 airplane. He was awarded the Order of the Red Banner and a number of medals.
After the war, Ilia Nusinov returned to Moscow and worked as a mathematician in one of Moscow's scientific research institutes that did work for the Soviet armed forces. However, in 1949 his father Isaak was accused of "cosmopolitanism," of kowtowing to the West because in his Russian-language book Pushkin and World Literature (that had been published in 1941!) he wrote about the influence of the classic of Western European literature on the Russian poet Pushkin. Furthermore, Isaak Nusinov was a member of the Jewish Anti-fascist Committee, many of whose members were arrested at that time. The literary scholar was also arrested and he died during his interrogation in Moscow. Because he refused to denounce his father, Ilia Nusinov was expelled from his research institute, and only two years later, with great difficulty, succeeded in finding work as the head of a work team in a factory in Moscow.
In 1955, Ilia Nusinov began to write scenarios in collaboration with his friend Semion Lungin. Several popular Soviet films were made on the basis of their works. In the spring of 1970, together with his counterpart Lungin and the film-maker Anatolii Grebnev, Nusinov began traveling with some military ships from the Barents Sea to the Black Sea. During the voyage, Ilia Nusinov died of a heart attack in May of that year.