Viva Zapata!

You’ve gotta love that gorgeous Seattle scenery.

You’ve gotta love that gorgeous Seattle scenery.


Every genre has its share of tragic biographies; they’re part of the mystery and allure of the creative life. The Seattle music scene of the early ’90s—call it grunge, if you must—was certainly no exception, but while many of the seminal musicians of that explosive era followed the path of self-destruction to its tragic end—Kurt Cobain, Andrew Wood, Layne Staley—there were others whose lives were cut short through no fault of their own.

Mia Zapata was the lead singer of the Gits, arguably one of Seattle’s premier punk bands back in the heady late ’80s. A proto-riot grrl, Zapata enthralled audiences with her powerful, bluesy growl and her impassioned stage presence. Major labels were already looking at the Gits when they went into the studio to record their second album in early 1993, but around 2 a.m. on the morning of July 7, Zapata was raped and strangled while walking home from a friend’s house. Zapata’s murder shocked Seattle and devastated the music community, their horror compounded by the fact that the murder went unsolved for 11 years, until random DNA testing linked a Florida fisherman—who lived in briefly in Seattle—to a saliva sample at the crime scene.

Movies on a Big Screen will be showing The Gits, a documentary by filmmaker Kerri O’Kane, which details the musical story of the Gits—from their days at Antioch College to their legendary Seattle shows—as well as the tragic story of Mia Zapata’s murder and its aftermath. It features interviews with Gits band members; Mia’s family and friends; musicians; and the detectives who investigated Mia’s senseless murder and eventually tracked down her killer.