Between 1960 and 1990, Cuba's film institute produced a weekly news programme called El Noticiero ICAIC. It would be shown before film screenings in the capital, Havana, and in towns and villages around the island.

During those 30 years, the news bulletin covered history, both local and global: the Cuban missile crisis, the Bay of Pigs invasion, coups around Latin America, the Vietnam War, independence wars in Africa - leaving a celluloid record of major events viewed through Cuban eyes..

In all, there were 1,493 newscasts produced, many of which could just be derided as propaganda - but which pushed the limits of news, of visual storytelling, that have left a legacy.

Cinema newsreels are anachronisms now - but back then, Cubans were covering the news their way. And we haven't seen anything like what they produced since.

Cinemas were really becoming places for political confrontation, which would sometimes also turn physical.

Manuel Perez Paredes, producer, Noticiero ICAIC

In order to understand why Noticiero was created, "you need to go back to Cuba, June 1960" says Manuel Perez Parades, producer, Noticiero ICAIC.

While Fidel Castro's revolutionary government was just under two years old, "there was a mounting confrontation along class lines between those who supported the revolution and those who began to oppose it or who were already staunchly against it.

"That confrontation was being played out on the streets all over the country and, therefore, also in cinemas. And cinemas became the place for class confrontation. Whenever Fidel appeared on screen in a private cinema, people against the revolution, who disagreed with the revolution, would whistle, jeer - shout out loudly against Fidel, or against Che Guevara or against any reference to the revolution," explains Parades.

"Supporters of the revolution would counter that with applause. So cinemas were really becoming places for political confrontation, which would sometimes also turn physical. In complete darkness. And you might have had people applauding the image of Fidel, the Noticiero would end, an American film would begin, the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lion would appear and some would applaud the lion. In that context, the directors at the Cuban film institute decided that it was their duty to provide a point of view on cinema screens around the country," says Parades.

According to Parades, at first, Noticiero's newsreels were meant "to defend the revolution's position and at the same time support a staunchly anti-imperialist position ... by 1962-63, you could see that the newsreel was more than just a weekly news review, no matter how agile, dynamic - militant. There was also an artistic vision."

As it began to develop its creativity, "it was able to disrupt certain established rules in how things should be said ... ICAIC took a particular stance towards artistic expression, which took risks. There was also a danger that mistakes could be made. And yet, it was a risk worth taking."

Source: Al Jazeera