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

British Film Institute

We are pleased to present ‘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 was part of the 15th International Silent Film Festival Manila (ISFF), which took place online from 24 November to 3 December 2021. The festival brought together silent films with original musical scores to create a unique cinematic experience. 

Through the British Film Institute, 'Dr Wise on Influenza' premiered online in the Philippines on 26 November via the Film Development Council of the Philippines channel.

‘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’. – Lotus Postrado, Country Director, British Council in the Philippines

Original musical score by Joee Mejias

The silent film was accompanied by the original musical score of Joee Mejias, an audio-visual artist and musician based in Manila, Philippines.

Her music combines field recordings, traditional and found instruments, electronics, and voice, forming songs that evoke inner memories, altered dream states, and fragments of the real or imaginary journeys. Joee’s live performances are influenced by her theatre background and vary in their use of projections, video, installations, and live performers. Joee has performed in venues around Southeast Asia, Canada, Japan, Taiwan and has toured the Philippines extensively. She is also a faculty member in De La Salle-College of St. Benilde – School of Design and Arts where she is an alumna of the Production Design program.

‘Dr Wise on Influenza’ and online screening dates

About the film:

  • In 1918-19 a deadly flu ravaged Britain, claiming nearly a quarter of a million lives. At the time of filming around 2,500 people were dying every week in London alone. Look out for some impressive microscopic footage of the deadly microbes in question, as well as some impressive location footage of London’s West End. 
  • 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.  

Screening dates:

  • Film premiere - 26 November, 3:00 PM 
  • 28 to 30 November, whole day screening

Online panel discussion: ‘Restoration and reinventions in film archives’

About the session:

  • To celebrate the 15th year of the festival, we brought together an international panel to discuss different ways – traditional and contemporary – of safeguarding the historical and cultural significance of silent films and film archives in today’s context.  The session held last 26 November explored how the convergence of cinema, archive and music can lead to innovative ways of interacting with new audiences.
  • It was co-hosted by the British Council in the Philippines, Embassy of France in Manila and Goethe-Institut Philippinen.

Moderator: Ricky Orellano, Director and film archivist


Watch the recording here.

The International Silent Film Festival (ISFF) was established in 2007. It is among the few remaining silent film festivals in the world and the first and oldest silent film festival in Southeast Asia. It brings together silent films from across the world and original scores by musicians from the Philippines.

The 2021 edition was co-organised by the British Council in the Philippines (United Kingdom), Film Development Council of the Philippines (Philippines), French Embassy in Manila (France), Goethe-Institut Philippinen (Germany), Instituto Cervantes de Manila (Spain), The Japan Foundation, Manila (Japan) and the Philippine Italian Association (Italy).

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

See also

External links