If you’re a surfing fan and hope to catch a film about the exploits of
surfing icon Andy Irons, hang on tight. While this documentary, coming to
Ventura County for just a handful of screenings, shows Andy Irons’
triumphs, it has enough highs and lows to bruise even the best on the
waves.

Indeed, for Irons, chasing waves and the lifestyle that traveled with it
were his success and his demise. So in this film, you can watch Irons surf,
but be prepared for some crazy crash-and-burns. In the manic life of Irons,
you just couldn’t have one without the other.

In the words of Irons himself, surfing was about searching for that perfect
high, physically and emotionally. “For those 10, three, two, one second,
it’s like God came out and gave you a kiss,” Irons narrates in the film’s
beginning, “and then you just chase that the whole rest of your life trying
to get that first wave or the first barrel or the first turn.”

Directors (and brothers) Steve and Todd Jones of extreme sports media
company Teton Gravity Research, which produced the film, have detailed
Irons’ life, including interviews with his brother, Bruce, his wife,
Lyndie, his parents, his friends and a couple of experts in the field of
bipolar disorder. Interspersed is intimate footage of Irons, who, along
with his younger brother, began surfing at a very young age.

As Bruce revealed in the film’s beginning, talking about his brother was
“the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”

Hard because it exposed both brothers’ competitive natures, their fights,
their alcohol and drug habits and, since they were professional surfers,
their rags to riches stories — from growing up in a humble hut on Kauai,
Hawaii, to the peaks of the world surfing tour. For Andy Irons, that peak
included three consecutive world surfing titles.

This film, however, is more than just a surfing story. It also explores the
nature of bipolar disorder and the dark side of opioid addiction. Kissed by God is a sober history of what the U.S. unleashed on itself with the introduction of drugs like oxycontin in the 1990s. It raises questions with which our country currently struggles: Why does success often lead to drug abuse? How does one help someone who voluntarily seeks a dangerous substance? And what forces were ultimately responsible for Irons’ demise?

As you may guess, this is a heavy film done with a high level of
professional expertise. It will hook you from Irons’ opening quote and
throw you into the intense waves of his chaotic physical and mental state.
It’s not for the faint of heart, but it is well worth watching.


The film is scheduled for one-night showings at the following theaters:
Tuesday, June 26, Regency Paseo in Camarillo; Wednesday, June 27, Plaza Stadium Cinemas 14 in Oxnard; and Thursday, June 28, at Regency Buenaventura 6 in Ventura. For times, tickets and more information, visit Teton Gravity Research at www.tetongravity.com/films/andy-irons-kissed-by-god/tour.