During the grand presscon of her Metro Manila Film Festival entry Culion held last December 5, Iza Calzado couldn't help but share her sentiments regarding local media constantly pitting her film against Judy Ann Santos’s movie Mindanao ever since it was confirmed they were both going to be part of the annual film festival. Add to that Juday’s recent win as Best Actress in the Cairo International Film Festival and Iza said she finally had to speak up about their direct competition in the MMFF awards night. “Actually I’ve been meaning to address something for quite some time. Ever since Culion was voted to be part of the MMFF, but first I would like to say that I’m very, very happy for Juday. I sent her a message the moment I saw it. Sabi ko pa nga sa kanya, ‘It’s about time ba makilala ng buong mundo at makita ang mga mata ni Mara,’” she shared.
Iza said Juday deserves the respect and recognition when it comes to acting. “Kasi napakatagal na niya sa industriya. Actually siya yung iniidolo ko talaga. So in terms of respect and love, not only for Judy Ann as the actress but Judy Ann as the woman and the human being, I really look up to her. So to even just be in the same league, like if I were nominated next to her, masaya na. In terms kasi of this whole thing, ang tagal ko na kasing hindi nag-MMFF. At saka sa totoo lamang, this is the first time that I am the lead. Not a leading lady, the lead and a producer as well,” she said.
As Culion’s lead actress and producer, Iza said she did not expect being pitted against Juday even before the showing of their films. “The minute they announced that we were to be part of it, the questions revolved around, ‘How do you feel that you’re going to be competing against Mindanao or this actor or this actress?’ Immediately the questions were revolving around the competition of who's going to win the award or who’s going to make the most money. Okay that's understandable because it is a film festival. It is a competition. But perhaps instead of pitting us against each other maybe we should celebrate each other and celebrate that we are making film, ‘di ba? Lahat, bawat pelikula, kahit na yung hindi nakapasok ng MMFF, lahat ng mga tao naging parte nun ay nagbigay ng buong puso nila sa paggawa nun. So instead of trying to make us compete on a personal level, I think a healthy competition is highly encouraged,” she explained.
Instead of looking at other MMFF entries as rivals, Iza would rather foster a healthy competition. “Parang mas maganda kung kunin natin sa mas positibong pananaw na, 'Wow may walong magagandang pelikula na nakasama sa Metro Manila Film Fest. During this time ipinagdiriwang natin hindi lamang ang Pasko kundi Pasko para sa films. So bakit ganun para kang pinagsasabong eh hindi naman tungkol dito yun. Hindi ba’t gusto natin ang umunlad at mas marami pang pelikula o content? Hindi naman din ako galit (laughs). Mere observation lang siya from my end, my opinion. Na parang ang lungkot lang na pinagsasabong ang mga pelikula. Pero naiintindihan ko because it’s business. Pero puwede naman tayo kumita ng hindi nagsisiraan or hindi nag-aaway, nag-su-supprtahan dapat ang isa’t isa. It may be idealistic but I'd like to think optimistic,” she said.
The talented actress also reminded the press about why she fell in love with making films in the first place. “Is this exactly why we make films? Kung dun lang ang magiging basehan natin, saan tayo papunta bilang isang industriya? So I really think we are on a good path. There are so many films that are being made now and I really, really think, katulad nga ng message ng Culion, when we are united we can make progress and I’m very hopeful because papunta na talaga tayo dun. Nakikita ko na paganda ng paganda ang industriya ng pelikulang Pilipino bawat taon,” she explained.