Many punters come to Cannes hoping for a free ticket ( Photo: AFP)
The black market for the top tickets at the Cannes Film Festival is in full swing.
While industry professionals and accredited journalists get in free, there are many general punters who show up in the hope of blagging or buying entry to the hottest events on the Cannes Croisette.
Many hang around -- ready to go, in full evening dress -- outside the Palais des Festivals with signs, hoping for a freebie.
"I've already seen three films for free. Each time, nice people gave me a ticket," says Sienna, an Italian woman in her thirties who travelled all the way from Berlin.
A 25-year-old from Finland, who asked not to be identified, said he would be happy to cough up a bit of cash for "an Almodovar or the new Scorsese".
Spain's Pedro Almodovar was in town with a much-hyped short film, "Strange Way of Life", a "queer Western" starring Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal, while Martin Scorsese's "Killers of the Flower Moon", with DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, was the hottest ticket in town last weekend.
But while many benefit from the generosity of festival-goers, others are looking to cash in.
An AFP journalist was offered a ticket for "Black Flies", Sean Penn's gruesome paramedics drama, for 50 euros ($54).
Not far away, Jenny, a young American from Miami who did not wish to give her surname, confided that she is a member of a WhatsApp group bringing together some 600 punters and sellers of tickets and invitations.
Screenshots of the conversations show someone offering a ticket to the premiere of "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny" last week -- in the presence of Harrison Ford and the other stars -- for 2,000 euros.
"I'm have ticket for Campari party. Can give to somebody," wrote another member of the group in broken English.
A certain Alex says he is keen, and the seller comes back with: "Hi, yes 300 euros. Do you have crypto wallet?"
Another is offering a ticket to a party attended by DiCaprio for "20,000 euros per person", while others for "after parties" range from 9,500 to 16,500 euros.
Who can afford to pay such sums?
"Influencers who have millions of followers and just want to be seen," says Jenny. "For them and the brands they promote, 2,000 euros is nothing."
To have ended up on these groups, the QR codes must have been "resold by unscrupulous professionals to make some money", she added.
The festival said it "takes action, in consultation with the police and judicial authorities" as soon as it is informed of black-market ticket sales.
"Sentences have been given in the past," the organisers told AFP, though police said there had been no investigations so far this year.