Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actor: The Gits
Director: Kerri O'Kane
Genres: Music Video & Concerts
The Gits helped spearhead Seattle's emerging musical underground in the early 1990s. Their sound was proto-grunge and all out punk aggression, and the earnest, blues wail of front woman Mia Zapata was its center. At the he... more »
Punk is a feeling
D. Hartley | Seattle, WA USA | 12/23/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of the countless bands that migrated to Seattle during the city's brief and shining heyday as America's D.I.Y Mecca was a quartet hailing from Ohio, who called themselves The Gits (in honor of a Monty Python sketch). Led by talented singer-songwriter Mia Zapata, the band mixed the musical tightness and aggressive melodic punch of L.A.'s X with the art-punk lyricism of San Francisco's Romeo Void. Zapata's powerful, bluesy Janis Joplin-meets-Exene Cervenka vocal delivery and charismatic stage presence made her a formidable front woman, and the band quickly gained a strong local following. They also soon gained the attention of local music producers, and were on the verge of being courted by some of the major labels, when it all came crashing to earth with a resounding thud. In the summer of 1993, Mia Zapata was beaten, raped and killed, her body unceremoniously dumped in a vacant lot. Her murder remained unsolved until an astounding break in the case in 2003 helped bring her killer to justice (thanks to a carefully preserved saliva sample taken from the crime scene and advancements in DNA forensics technology). Her frighteningly random and brutal murder not only had a profoundly disheartening and long-lasting effect on Seattle's incestuous music community, but at the time, symbolically represented the beginning of the end for the city's burgeoning music renaissance; it was sort of the grunge era's Altamont, if you will.
In a new documentary simply entitled The Gits (available on DVD) super-fans and first time filmmakers Kerri O'Kane (director) and Jessica Bender (producer) have constructed an engrossing, genuinely moving portrait of the band and Zapata's legacy. When O'Kane and Bender were doing initial research for their project, they starting snapping up all the Gits memorabilia they could get their hands on, acquiring much of it via eBay, and mostly through one particular seller. That person turned out to be the band's drummer, who was beginning to wonder who these two particularly obsessed fans were. This serendipity eventually led to the full cooperation of all the surviving band members, after they were fully assured that O'Kane and Bender weren't a couple of weird stalker fan types. This was a legitimate concern due to the fact that Zapata's killer was then still unknown and presumably still at large. Thus began a six year labor of love for the pair.
The first half of the film is devoted to the history of the band, beginning with their formation at Antioch College in Ohio in 1986. By the time they moved to Seattle in 1989, the band had developed a sonic sensibility that was more simpatico with classic punk rock than it was to the trendy "grunge" sound of the time (speaking strictly as an "old school" rock fan, grunge always sounded like warmed-over Blue Cheer or Sabbath to me, while punk was closer to the spirit of The MC5 and The Ramones). O'Kane does a nice job encapsulating their Seattle years with well-chosen performance clips and archival photos. Interviews with the band, some of their friends and members of Mia's family are supplemented by recollections from professional peers like Joan Jett and members of 7 Year Bitch, an all-female Seattle band who were generously mentored by the Gits (and ironically, signed by a major label long before their more musically accomplished mentors were "discovered" themselves). The music business is a harsh mistress, indeed.
The second half of the film deals with Zapata's death. Much to their credit, the filmmakers don't exploit the sensationalistic aspects of the crime or dwell on all the gory details of the murder itself. Instead, they take the high road and examine the profound effect her loss had on her family, friends, fans and fellow members of the music community. The sensitive and respectful handling of the latter part of the story ultimately accentuates what lies at the heart of a film that could have been a real downer: an inspiring portrait of a group of close friends truly committed to each other, their music and their fans. With all the soulless pap oozing from the music charts and Stepford Idol marionettes warbling their glorified karaoke at us from our Empty Vee these days, it's enough to give one a glimmer of hope that, somewhere out there in the ether, there will always be someone making Music That Matters (well, I can always dream, can't I?)
Brilliant documentary about a brilliant band
Scott Porteous | Seattle, WA | 09/06/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this film after having been introduced to the music of THE GITS only a few scant weeks earlier. As I rapidly developed a strong affinity for their music and had done a bit of research into their history, I was quite eager to see this documentary. Let me say that I was not disappointed. Far from it. I was amazed.
This is a powerful film about a band that would have been huge were it not for the tragic murder of their singer Mia Zapata. I suppose that what impressed me most about this film is that it deftly avoided falling into the trap of making the film about Mia and her murder. That of course is covered, in heartbreaking, tear jerking fashion, but this film, as a whole, is a celebration of the time four good friends spent with one another, the music they made, and the impact they had (the profound impact) on those around them.
I would recommend this film for anyone who has an appreciation for music and, more broadly, anyone who has a heartbeat and a soul. It's required viewing."
A Must See Movie
R. Sawyer | Lost in KY | 08/08/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a must see and own video to go along side the classics like Woodstock, the Doors, Janis and Hendrix. Although not well known to the rest of America, its obvious that the Gits were up and coming and would have made it big. With a twist of fate that not even Hollywood could have thought up, their dreams, but worse than that Mia's life, was cut short and her band, family and friends worlds changed in a matter of minutes.
Many great live concert shots, stories and music to enjoy. Get it, watch it and wonder what would have been and what WE missed out on."
Erin Jans | Denver | 08/07/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a great documentary of the life of Mia Zapata. She was an incredible singer/lyricist whose life was cut short. This movie is a great tribute to her life."