Dr. Wise on Influenza (1919) by UK’s Ministry of Health.  ©

British Film Institute

Monday 15 November 2021


The British Council presents Dr Wise on Influenza, a 1919 public information film commissioned by Britain’s Local Government Board (later the Ministry of Health) as the country fell under the grip of the Great Influenza of 1918-19. The hard-hitting film was made at the height of the pandemic designed to shock people out of their complacency towards this common illness and take preventative measures.

The film is part of the 15th International Silent Film Festival Manila, which takes place online from 24 November to 3 December 2021. The festival brings together silent films with original musical scores to create a unique cinematic experience. It is co-organised by the British Council in the Philippines (United Kingdom), Film Development Council of the Philippines (Philippines), French Embassy Manila (France), Goethe-Institut Philippinen (Germany), Instituto Cervantes de Manila (Spain), The Japan Foundation Manila (Japan) and the Philippine Italian Association (Italy). 

Through the British Film Institute (BFI), Dr Wise on Influenza premieres online in the Philippines on 26 November Friday at15.00 via the Film Development Council of the Philippines channel.

On this unique occasion, the silent film will be accompanied by the original musical score of Joee Mejias, an audio-visual artist and musician based in Manila, Philippines. Her music combines field recordings, instruments, electronics, and voices that evoke memories and altered consciousness.

According to Bryony Dixon, curator at the BFI National Archive, this film by Joseph Best is the only British film made about the Great Pandemic.

‘We are thrilled to be part of the International Silent Film Festival. It is more important than ever to foster international cooperation and artistic collaboration as we slowly recover from the pandemic. The film, Dr Wise on Influenza gives us valuable advice to be mindful of our community’s well-being during a health crisis. It is also an important reminder for us to learn from the past.’ shares Lotus Postrado, Country Director, British Council in the Philippines.

Apart from film screenings, there will also be a panel discussion on ‘Restoration and archive of silent films’ moderated by director and film archivist, Ricky Orellana. Co-hosted by the British Council, it takes place on 26 November, 17.00 (PH time), and features Sensoria Film and Music Festival Director, Jo Wingate (UK), Deutsche Kinemathek’s Film Restorer Julia Wallmüller (Germany) and ABS-CBN’s Head of Film Restoration and Dolphy Theatre, Leo Katigbak (Philippines).

Viewing is free upon registration.

For more information on the festival, please visit the official International Silent Film Festival Facebook page.

Notes to Editor

For inquiries, please contact:

Henri Palma | Programme Officer

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We build connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language. Last year we reached over 80 million people directly and 791 million people overall including online, and through broadcasts and publications. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive a 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government. www.britishcouncil.org