Apache 8

A film by Sande Zeig

2011 | 57 minutes | Color | DVD | English/Apache | Subtitled | Order No. 121049 |


For 30 years, the all-female Apache 8 unit has protected their reservation from fire and also responded to wildfires around the nation. This group of firefighters, which recently became co-ed, soon earned the reputation of being fierce, loyal and dependable—and tougher than their male colleagues. Facing gender stereotypes and the problems that come with life on the impoverished reservation, the women became known as some of the country’s most elite firefighters. From director Sande Zeig and executive producer Heather Rae, APACHE 8 combines archival footage and present-day interviews and focuses primarily on four women from different generations of Apache 8 crewmembers, who speak tenderly and often humorously of hardship, loss, family, community and pride in being a firefighter. The women are separated from their families, face tribe initiation, and struggle to make a living in a community ravaged by unemployment and substance abuse. But while the women may have initially set out to try and earn a living in their economically challenged community, they quickly discover an inner strength and resilience that speaks to their traditions and beliefs as Native women.


"Facing gender stereotypes and the problems that come with life on the impoverished reservation, the women became known as some of the country’s most elite firefighters."


"Interweaving the scenes of raging fires, intense training sessions, and disrupted home life are personal stories of sacrifice, tragedy, pride, and accomplishment. …a good resource for women’s studies and Native American history classes."



  • Santa Fe Film Festival
  • Citizen Jane Film Festival
  • Native American Film & Video Festival
  • American Indian Film Festival
  • Native Eyes Film Showcase
  • Albuquerque Film Festival
  • VisionMaker Film Festival
  • Athena Film Festival


Sande Zeig

Sande Zeig has been actively working in the independent film business for over thirty-five years in both production and distribution.

She directed and produced six films, including the short Central Park, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1994; a feature The Girl, based on a short story by French writer Monique Wittig, in 2001, which premiered at the Toronto and Berlin Film Festivals; the documentary Soul Masters: Dr. Guo & Dr. Sha, 2008; Apache 8, a documentary about the first all-women wildland firefighting crew from the White Mountain Apache Tribe, broadcast widely on PBS in 2011; Sister Jaguar’s Journey, completed in 2015, which tells the story of a Dominican nun who finds peace and forgiveness through plant medicine in the Amazon rainforest, and The Living Saint of Thailand, a short film about Venerable Mae Chee Sansanee Sthirasuta, completed in 2019.

Zeig was the Founder and President of Artistic License Films, a film distribution company that distributed over a hundred films, including films by Ismail Merchant, Michel Negroponte, Jim Stark, Kore-eda Hirakazu and DA Pennebaker.

She was the programmer of the Loft Cinema in Tucson, Arizona, the Bleecker Street Cinema in New York City, the New York Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, and the Los Angeles Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. She has received the following grants and fellowships: Native American Public Telecommunications Production Grant, 2010, Art Matters, New York, 1995, The MacDowell Colony Artist’s Fellowship, 1990, The Astraea Foundation, New York, 1984 and California Arts Council, Artist in Residence, 1979-1980.

Zeig is developing a documentary on Monique Wittig, her partner, with whom she collaborated on a book, screenplays and plays. (1/21)


Shopping Cart