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Sumayah Chappelle Makes Debut at Big Lens Film Festival

Local film student Brittany Shyne is premiering her short film The Painted Lady at the Big Lens Film Festival on Thursday at the Neon Theater in Dayton. Both shows are sold out, but plans for another showing are in the works according to filmmaker Steve Bognar.

Shyne, who is a student at Wright State University, has cast 11-year-old Sumayah Stone Chappelle in the lead role of  9-year-old Bree Palmer who struggles with the confusing physical and emotional changes that accompany the first exposure to womanhood. Sumayah is the daughter of William Sedar Chappelle and Bianca Stone Chappelle and the niece of comedian Dave Chappelle.

Sumayah lives is Xenia, Ohio but attends Mills Lawn Elementary in Yellow Springs.  She says, “I live in Xenia, but life is in Yellow Springs.”  When asked why that is, she explains that Yellow Springs is artistic, open and accepting.  “Everyone is normal because everyone is different.”

Shyne, a senior at the Wright State School of Film, is looking forward to Thursday's 21st annual Big Lens Festival, where four of the six films shown are directed by women.

"The Big Lens Festival is an accumulation of all the hard work that a lot of these Wright State film students have done in the past four years," she said.