One of the former Soviet Union's more influential directors of the '70s and '80s, Nikolai Gubenko was also known for the projects he helmed at Moscow's famed Taganka Theater and for serving as the Minister of Culture during the U.S.S.R.'s final years (1989-1991). Podranki/Orphans (1977) stands as one of Gubenko's most acclaimed films. Like the film's protagonist, Gubenko was orphaned during World War II and sent to a special home. As a young man, Gubenko was sent to a circus school and afterward performed at the Young Spectator's Theater in Odessa during 1958. The following year, Gubenko enrolled at Moscow's VGIK and studied acting under Sergei Gerasimov and Tamara Makarova. Following his graduation in 1964, Gubenko acted with the Taganka Theater. He made his feature-film debut as an actor in 1964. In 1971, Gubenko directed his first feature, Prishel Soldat S Fronta/A Soldier Has Returned From the Front. Following the success of Podranki, Gubenko earned more praise and popularity for Iz Zhizni Otdykayushchikh/The Life of the Summer People (1981), I Zhizn, I Slezy, I Lyubov/Life, Love, Tears (1984), and Zapretnaya Zona/Forbidden Zone (1988).