Professional surfer Andy Irons seemed to have everything going for him: multiple championship titles, money and fame.
But he was also battling mental illness and an opioid addiction. He died in 2010 at the age of 32.
On Thursday, Animas City Theatre will be screening the documentary “Andy Irons: Kissed By God,” which looks at Irons’ life and includes interviews from the people who knew and loved him.
“We interviewed around 60-plus people to help tell Andy’s story; everyone from his closest friends and family to his high school teachers,” said Justin Fann, lead editor and co-producer of the film, in an email interview. “Andy’s life was always shrouded in a some mystery.”
Fann said there were a lot of questions after Irons’ death, and, through the project, people who knew him were able to tell their stories about Irons, and perhaps even find healing in the process.
“When we started the project, Bruce and Lyndie (Andy’s wife) reached out to everyone we would interview and asked them to tell the truth and not spare any details. They wanted the true story, and I think them making that call was a huge help for us to get that,” Fann said. “Over the course of filming these interviews, people started to refer to them as the ‘therapy chair.’ I think many of them felt it was a relief to be able to tell the true story, and I think it was a very healing process for many people. “
Fann said Todd Jones and Steve Jones, the film’s directors, had gotten to know Irons over the years as he visited Jackson, Wyoming, to snowboard and through shooting various surfing film and TV projects with him.
“I think when the idea to tell his story came about, they jumped at the opportunity to share with the world the person they had gotten to know in their time with him,” Fann said. “For me personally, I was excited at the opportunity to tell the story of a life that had so many layers and challenges.”
For those on the outside, Fann said, it seemed Irons had it all: success at the highest level of surfing, financial stability and basically, living the dream life of traveling, surfing and competing.
“Andy’s life was far from perfect, and I think that’s why making this documentary was so important,” he said. “We wanted to show the true story of Andy Irons, through his highs and lows, and bring about a deeper understanding of what demons he battled.”
While “Kissed By God” is the story of one man’s life, Fann said the film tackles bigger issues.
“I think this film is important because it humanizes a topic that is so prevalent in our society and has the power to start a conversation about it,” Fann said. “There are millions of people around the world dealing with mental illnesses and addictions, and for them to be able to watch this film and see that they are not alone is very powerful. I’ve seen a lot of people open up on Facebook or Instagram after watching the film about their struggles, expressing that this film helped them feel OK about talking openly and that they are seeking help from friends and family.”