‘Andy Irons: Kissed by God’ Premieres in May
AI documentary reveals the story of the Hawaiian’s battles with bipolar disorder and opioid addiction
- Published:April 5, 2018
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- Photo: Jeremiah Klein
The Andy Irons biopic “Kissed by God” is set to premiere in May. The Teton Gravity Research film has been years in the making, but as this teaser shows, should provide an honest and emotional take on one of surfing’s most revered, yet troubled, champions.
Now, surf biographies, and the surf media in general, aren’t exactly known for honest appraisals of our heroes. While talent is rightly lionized, flaws are often shamefully ignored. However, with “Kissed by God” the makers, along with those closest to Andy, chose to tackle head-on the bipolar disorder and opioid addiction that eventually led to Andy’s death in a Dallas hotel room in 2010.
“When Andy was on, when he was at his peak, I have never seen a man so confident and so unbeatable,” Mick Fanning told Surfline. “At those times he would walk into a room and supercharge it. It’s hard to describe the effect he had on people.”
“He took everything to the extreme,” Joel Parkinson says in the film. “The highs were high, but then what came was the low of the lows.” In the film these lows, including the extent of Andy’s struggles with bipolar disorder, are addressed openly. Andy battled the same demons that millions of people worldwide battle on a daily basis, and the producers hope this film can aid in the treatment of mental illness.
However, it is Andy’s addiction to opioids, and specifically oxycontin, and the role that played in his death, that might be the most shocking. With the premiere coming only a few months after Cabinet Secretaries held a two-hour summit on opioid addiction, and after which President Trump said his administration will roll out unspecified strong policies on opioids, this is a graphic and traumatic illustration of what opioid addiction can do to a life.
“They changed him,” Andy’s widowed wife Lyndie says in the film, simply summing up how Andy’s addiction, coupled with his bipolar disorder, eventually robbed her of a husband and her son Axel of a father. This can’t have been an easy film to make, as the amount of tears shed by the participants shows. By telling the untold story of Andy’s life, the aim is to tear down the myths associated with these two ferocious diseases.
However, “Kissed by God” is not solely about addiction and depression. It is also a celebration of Andy’s life, documenting his achievements and showcasing his surfing. It is the most revealing insight we’ve seen into a man who had such a powerful impact on the sport of surfing.
The film will debut to the world on Wednesday, May 2nd at the Regency Village Theatre in Westwood Village, Los Angeles, followed by Honolulu, where it will be shown at the Hawaiian Theatre Center on Sunday, May 6th. Alongside the Honolulu showing, there will also be a street fair to raise money for the Andy Irons Foundation and the non-profit Theatre. It will then have its East Coast premiere on Thursday, May 10th at NYU’s Skirball in New York City.