Robert De Niro Honors Late Father's Legacy at Tribeca Artists Dinner

Robert and Drena De Niro - Chanel Tribeca Film Festival Dinner - Getty - H 2017
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Balthazar was even more star-studded than usual for the festival's midpoint bash.

Aside from doling out superlatives, Tribeca Film Festival juries have the unofficial task of pairing artwork with owners. "We're the only film festival in the world that provides original works of art for these prizes," said painter Stephen Hannock last night at the 12th annual TFF Artists Dinner, where he was one of 10 honorees.

When the evening's hosts — Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff — founded the festival in 2002 as a way of revitalizing downtown Manhattan post-9/11, Hannock recalls De Niro asking, "How do we get the painters involved?" The two-time Oscar winner is the son of acclaimed painters Virginia Admiral (1915-2000) and Robert De Niro Sr. (1922-1993), who was the subject of the 2014 HBO documentary Remembering the Artist.

"He's a master," said Hannock of the elder De Niro. "He was a big influence on me. My first gallery in the big leagues was his gallery, so I really learned a lot." Hannock — himself an Academy Award recipient, in visual effects, for What Dreams May Come (where Robin Williams' heavenly character inhabits his wife's paintings) — proposed gifting art, and De Niro responded, "'Well that's great, let's do that for every category.'" A lithograph by the actor's father — "Anna Christie Entering the Barn 1965-67" — was even awarded in 2011.

Standing on a black carpet and under a transparent tent outside Balthazar, the 180-seat French brasserie that has hosted the Chanel-sponsored dinner since 2014, performance artist Marina Abramovi? said, "If you think of Hollywood, it's not really interacting with artists. The Tribeca Festival is different. This is why it's so unique."

Other guests included Diane Lane, Christina Ricci, Martha Stewart, Harvey Keitel, Andie MacDowell and Peter Fonda. The Affair's Ruth Wilson, a juror in the International Narrative Competition, confided to The Hollywood Reporter how much she enjoys the "cloak and dagger," "sneaking in and sneaking out" her festival post requires: "It's like being behind the Iron Curtain. You get to sort of see how the mechanics work."

Inside, Jon Bon Jovi and wife Dorothea Hurley lingered in a group conversation with Huma Abedin during the cocktail hour, eventually taking their seats at a the center back table with Tory Burch and Katie Holmes (she told reporters, "I love splurging on going to the Angelika theater" — three blocks away — "and seeing a lot of movies. I'll see like three movies in one day").

About 20 minutes after waiters began serving the meal — salad, steak frites or roasted free-range chicken, and assorted desserts — Jonah Hill arrived, first greeting Boyhood's Ellar Coltrane and others seated near the door before taking his place in the restaurant's midsection alongside Girls co-stars Jemima Kirke and Zosia Mamet.

Although their series creator, Lena Dunham — another Gotham-born child of professional artists — was absent, her presence was felt (her mother, photographer/filmmaker Laurie Simmons, and best friend, Audrey Gelman, co-founder of the city's first all-female co-working space, were also in attendance).

Kirke told THR that she has no plans to read the many think pieces that resulted from the show's April 16 conclusion. "But I knew that people — everyone hates the finale," she said, save for "a couple exceptions."

Kirke said: "I loved it, but it was very Lena. Like I expected her to do something like this that was sort of — to others — like sort of underwhelming. You know, I think she's rebellious in that way, that I think she knows that people want some big explosive thing, and she's like, 'Well too bad. That's life.'"

As they dispersed into Soho, many guests unknowingly passed the building where Robert De Niro Sr.'s studio remains, perfectly preserved by his only child.