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Portland Film Festival to feature film starring Beaverton's Katee Sackhoff

Actress, best known as Starbuck of 'Battlestar Galactica,' says her part in 'Girl Flu' was challenging but rewarding.

PUBLICITY STILL - Katee Sackhoff, left, and Jade Pettyjohn star in 'Girl Flu,' an independent film being shown Sunday evening at the Portland Film Festival.Katee Sackhoff is recognizable to millions as hotshot pilot Kara Thrace — better known by her callsign “Starbuck” — in the 2003 television series “Battlestar Galactica.” More recently, she's portrayed sheriff's deputy Vic Moretti on the crime drama “Longmire.”

Sackhoff, who grew up in St. Helens and Beaverton, stars in the movie Girl Flu, screening this upcoming weekend at the Portland Film Festival. This role, she said, is a dramatic departure from the wisecracking, tough-as-nails women in uniform she is best known for playing.

“Girl Flu” centers on a 12-year-old girl named Bird who gets her first period, and her single mother, Jenny — played by Sackhoff — who doesn't know how to react to her daughter taking that natural first step toward womanhood.

“I read the script, and I'd never read something that was so straightforward on the page, but to me, the character was so challenging, because she really has no redeeming qualities,” Sackhoff said. “I sort of jumped at that opportunity and challenge to either make people really hate her or forgive her, ultimately.”

The movie is a coming-of-age story for Bird, but also for her unpredictable mother, who must reckon with the changes in her world, Sackhoff said.

In a sense, Sackhoff admitted, she had to make a similar transformation in playing the part. She recalled feeling “sheer terror” at stepping outside what she described as her “stereotypical wheelhouse,” even worrying she would be fired from the set. After the film was finished, she said, she showed it to her boyfriend and parents and had another new experience: They told her they liked the film but hated her character.

At that point, Sackhoff said, “I realized that I did my job, because they're not supposed to like her. I mean, you can be intrigued by her, and she can be slightly charming, but she's not a role model. … She's a complete mess.”

She mused, “I guess it was sort of this coming-of-age, and I guess I realized that I don't really come out of my comfort zone that much.”

The lead role of Bird is played by Jade Pettyjohn, of the Nickelodeon series “School of Rock.” Sackhoff described her performance as “beautiful” and her character as “lovable.”

“This is ultimately her movie,” Sackhoff said.

An independent film, “Girl Flu” was written and directed by Dorie Barton, whom Sackhoff credits with talking her into taking the part of Jenny.

“I'm more proud of this project than anything I've ever done,” Sackhoff said. “I'm so proud of the cast and the director — I mean, Dorie's done such a beautiful job. …. But also because I was scared.”

After premiering in Los Angeles in June, “Girl Flu” will be screened Sunday night at the Portland Film Festival, starting at 7:15 p.m. Sackhoff said she won't be able to attend due to a prior commitment, but she was unreserved in her enthusiasm for her hometown.

“My whole family's still there (in Beaverton),” said Sackhoff, who said she moved there from St. Helens during middle school and ultimately graduated from Sunset High School. “I go back all the time. I love Portland. I absolutely love Portland.”

Sackhoff said she will begin shooting for her next film project, a science fiction movie titled “Origin Unknown,” in London in October. She said she has been selective about appearing in sci-fi roles since her turn on “Battlestar Galactica” and is “really excited” about the part.

Tickets for the closing night narrative film screening of “Girl Flu” Sunday at the Laurelhurst Theater, 2735 E. Burnside St., Portland, are available on Eventbrite.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story misnamed the film in the subheadline. The movie is called "Girl Flu." The story has been corrected.

By Mark Miller
Assistant Editor
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