Breakfast at Onomo’s, 2013. Photograph: Antoine Tempé

Breakfast at Onomo’s, 2013. Photograph: Antoine Tempé

*Two Dakar-based photographers restaged several iconic cinema moments with black models replacing the original actors, and were taken aback by the racial dimension to the response.

According to a report in The Guardian, the hotel group Onomo International invited Omar Victor Diop and Antoine Tempé to create a series of photographs using the hotel as a backdrop. They turned to the silver screen for their collaborative project, ONOMOllywood.

In 20 images that pay homage to characters such as Truman Capote’s Holly Golightly in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” these reinventions begin with the a humble “what if…” A question looking to how popular global cultural translates to the local, what could it look like, and what new memories would it create.

American Beauty, 2013. Photograph: Omar Victor Diop

American Beauty, 2013. Photograph: Omar Victor Diop

While the project has created conversation and accolades, it also generated blowback, “especially in the US,” said Diop, who notes the pics struck a particular nerve after one of his interviews was published on CNN.com .

“We were taken aback by the racial dimension of some readers’ comment,” he said. “To my great surprise, I realized that this series could be seen by some as a sort of “revenge” of black people against a too ‘white’ Hollywood. The ‘race war’ in the comments section was quite epic!

“It was rather amusing to see the way some readers resolutely eluded the fact that this project is the product of a collaboration between a French-American photographer and a Senegalese photographer. It was ‘just some black dude painting Hollywood in black because the world looked better like this.’

Oma Victor Diop

Oma Victor Diop

“I guess this can be explained by a set of contextual factors. The article about ONOMOllywood was published in late July 2013, after a heated debate over a series of race-related affairs like the Trayvon Martin case in the US, a series of blackface incidents in fashion magazines in Europe, etc. I guess people from both sides were already prepared to shoot at anything that could be seen as an attempt to see the world from a racial perspective.

Interesting experience indeed, we’re glad this project started a conversation in other continents, that’s the purpose of art, even though for us, ONOMOllywood remains a celebration, a well deserved homage to geniuses of cinema, to timeless moments.

The Matrix

(Bottom) The Matrix, 2013. Photograph: Omar Victor Diop

Thelma and Louise

Thelma and Louise, 2013. Photograph: Antoine Tempé

(Top) Frida, 2013. Photograph: Omar Victor Diop

(Top) Frida, 2013. Photograph: Omar Victor Diop

Chicago, 2013. Photograph: Omar Victor Diop

Chicago, 2013. Photograph: Omar Victor Diop

Psycho, 2013. Photograph: Antoine Tempé

Psycho, 2013. Photograph: Antoine Tempé