The annual honor, which in the past has gone to the likes of Michael Douglas, Quentin Tarantino and Harrison Ford, is one of the first awards in what might be called the flip side of awards season, in which publicity campaigns are given boosts by lifetime achievement awards and special citations from the likes of the Santa Barbara and Palm Springs Film Festivals.
De Niro (left, with Jacki Weaver) is considered a strong Best Supporting Actor candidate for his performance in David O. Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook," in which the veteran actor excels in the meatiest role he has had in years. In the press release announcing De Niro's selection, Kirk Douglas commented, "I am a great fan, not only for what he does on screen, but also for establishing the Tribeca Film Festival."
The award will be given to De Niro not at the late-January film festival, which will honor a wide variety of other actors and filmmakers, but at a separate black-tie ceremony in Santa Barbara on Dec. 8.
The event will serve as a fundraiser for the festival, which will take place from Jan. 24 to Feb. 3, 2013. In addition to screenings and panels, the festival will give out a number of awards at special tributes, which will be announced in coming weeks.
"Silver Linings Playbook," which became an immediate Oscar contender when it debuted in Toronto in September, will be released by the Weinstein Company in November.