Of the more than 230 films at the Seattle International Film Festival, more than a dozen are music documentaries, grouped together in a...

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Of the more than 230 films at the Seattle International Film Festival, more than a dozen are music documentaries, grouped together in a special section called “Face the Music.” Three are of special interest locally because they are about the Seattle music scene (“The Gits,” “Drive Well, Sleep Carefully: On the Road with Death Cab for Cutie” and “Malfunkshun: The Andrew Wood Story.”) “The Gits” is the bittersweet story of budding local rock star Mia Zapata.

*½ “The Gits,” 9 Saturday, Egyptian; 3:45 p.m. Monday, Egyptian.

The Gits are remembered for the murder of their lead singer, Mia Zapata, in 1993 and the search for her killer, who was finally arrested a decade later.

This rather crude, amateurish documentary is not so much about her murder, however, as it is about the Gits as a substitute family for her and a close-knit circle of like-minded musicians and friends, all living in a run-down old house at 19th and Denny. The 75-minute film shows how the Gits held onto a small cult following here while the rest of the Seattle music scene was obsessed with grunge, which the Gits steadfastly rejected for their own brand of punk rock.

Zapata, a brash, intense singer, was the main reason the Gits had a following. She threw herself into her emotionally-charged songs, becoming the focal point for the band, which moved here in 1989, for reasons never explained in the film, after forming in 1986 at Antioch University in Ohio.

The documentary is drenched in the Gits’ music, including lots of live footage from their history. A performance filmed for the excellent 1996 grunge documentary “Hype!” provides the best live footage and the best-sounding music.

Another Seattle band, 7 Year Bitch, part of the same “family” as the Gits, is also featured. The tension that arises when 7 Year Bitch becomes much more popular and acclaimed makes for some of the most interesting scenes in “The Gits.”

The murder and its aftermath are left for the end, and are handled with sensitivity and thoroughness. Part of Zapata’s legacy is Home Alive, a defense organization created by and for women, which is still active here.

Fans of the band will especially like “The Gits” because of the music. Other viewers will learn about the special bond that develops when a band becomes a family, and the devastation when that family is shattered by murder.

Patrick MacDonald: 206-464-2312 or pmacdonald@seattletimes.com