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French press review 13 May 2015

A Picasso goes for a whopping 179 million dollars (158 million euros) at a New York auction sale. Is the Cannes Film Festival turning into a "Promenade des Anglais"? And struggling French President Francois Hollande enjoys a rare international facelift on his historic visit to Cuba.

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Right-wing Le Figaro chose a photograph of the beaming Hollande shaking hands with the ex-"leader Maximo" to illustrate its cover page story on the first ever visit to the island by a French leader. A spokesman for the opposition UMP party slams Hollande’s decision to meet Fidel Castro as a scandal.

“Leader Minimo meets Leader Maximo” screamed the hawkish right-wing lawmaker Francois Cornut-Gentille. He ridicules “Hollande’s dream of making history in Cuba, when the future is being decided with Russia”, his diatribe motivated by President Hollande’s boycott of the 9 May commemoration of “Victory Day” in Moscow.

For Le Monde, Hollande’s call from Havana, for the lifting of sanctions and the return of Cuba on the world stage, is a bold gamble which will pay off in the form of business contracts. L’Humanité agrees, pointing to contracts signed by some 30 business chiefs travelling with President Hollande.

They include the inking of a convention on medical research with the Pasteur Institute, food processing, renewable energies and in the academic field. Hence Le Monde's assertion that Hollande’s "scoop” has forced the Unites States to revise its own Cuba plans, amid reports that the White House is now considering a possible trip to Cuba by President Barack Obama as early as 2016.

La Croix is wowing over a Picasso which smashed records for sales at auction in New York on Monday. Le Monde reports that the old painting titled “The Women of Algiers” (Version 0) went for 179 million dollars (158 million euros), the highest price ever paid for any work of art sold at auction, according to Christie’s. The painting is one of the star pieces of a week of auctions of impressionistic and modern works in New York.

And Libération can’t wait to see the party begin – the 68th edition of the Cannes Film Festival which kicks off today. The paper is puzzled by the surprise decision by the board of directors to showcase English language films and the granting of supreme distinctions to a cream of stars of Hollywood extraction.

Out of 19 pictures in competition only five are produced by French film makers: Jacques Audiard, Stéphane Brizé, Valerie Donzelli, Maïwenn and Guillaume Nicloux. Never before  has so much English or globish been spoken in the Cannes Theatre of Lights Palace, according to Libération.

More so, Agnès Varda is to receive an honorary Palme d’or during this year’s Closing Ceremony, previously given only to Woody Allen in 2002, Clint Eastwood in 2009, and Bernardo Bertolucci in 2011. The award is given to renowned directors whose works have achieved a global impact but who have nevertheless never won the Palme d’or. That sends the Libé wondering if Cannes Film Festival isn’t gradually becoming a “Promenade des Anglais”.

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