The opening night of the 22nd annual Tribeca Festival was kicked-off in historic fashion on Wednesday when Mayor Eric Adams presented legendary actor and festival co-founder Robert De Niro with the key to the city.
A host of actors and filmmakers gathered at a private party in the Tribeca Bar and Grill to celebrate the first night of what will be almost two weeks of festivities, from movie premieres to video game previews. However, the event was christened with Mayor Adams presenting De Niro with the key to the city for his contributions to the Big Apple, including helping to bring much needed resources to the city by developing the festival following the devastating 9/11 terror attacks.
“There were those who decided to flee but we had someone that was clear, we had a raging bull,” Adams joked. “We cannot thank you enough, brother De Niro. You and Jane [Rosenthal] decided clearly that you were going to stay.”
The event formally known as the Tribeca Film Festival, which has now morphed into simply the Tribeca Festival thanks to its expansion to gaming, talks, and immersive experiences, was also attended by co-founder Jane Rosenthal and long-time collaborator of De Niro, director Martin Scorsese, who congratulated his friend on the momentous occasion.
“He’s actually very much a visionary because he saw the potential of a massive resurrection of this part of the city. And he saw that he was able to make a new city within the city,” Scorsese said. “Within two months, we did it. We did it and it became international.”
Scorsese joined De Niro as he was presented with the golden key by the mayor and the room erupted in applause. De Niro thanked the mayor, calling it a wonderful surprise.
“John Lindsay, Abe Beam, Ed Koch, David Dinkins, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Bloomberg, Bill de Blasio. This is just a partial list of New York City mayors who did not give me the Key to the City,” De Niro joked. “Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Thank you. It was a very wonderful surprise that you’re here, and it’s a treat to see so many new and old friends tonight.”
The celebration culminated in Rosenthal announcing, “De Niro Con,” a three-day celebration from Sept. 29-Oct. 1 that will feature film screenings, talks, movie set recreations, and an appearance by the actor himself.
The Tribeca Festival will run through June 18.