During the introduction of Robert De Niro’s tribute tonight at the Cannes Film Festival that preceded a special screening of Hands Of StoneHarvey Weinstein told the packed house at the Grand Theatre Lumiere just how much of a mensch the actor is.

It was during the production of Miramax’s Cop Land, which marked director James Mangold’s sophomore directorial effort. Mangold was literally graduating from a $300,000 production with his first feature Heavy to a $35 million movie with Cop Land. Two-time Oscar winner De Niro wanted to be the first actor in the cast to shoot his scenes with Mangold before Sylvester Stallone, Harvey Keitel, Peter Berg or Ray Liotta.

“They could smell the blood of a young director — they know they’re gonna kick this director’s ass,” Weinstein said. “And this is what Bob did. No matter what James Mangold shot, Bob said, ‘Oh my God, that’s a fantastic idea, James!’ ‘James, that’s brilliant — that close up is the right close up!’ And then I heard Stallone say, ‘Oh, my God, Bob likes James!’ ”

“That’s what Bob did for a young director. What he did for New York City after 9/11 was open his restaurant and serve 3,000 meals a day. And when the city was devastated, he opened Chinatown, Little Italy, and he’s been the greatest ambassador that New York has,” exclaimed Weinstein, triggering a round of cheers.

Hands Of Stone star Edgar Ramirez, who plays Panamanian boxer Roberto Duràn to De Niro’s trainer Ray Arcel, took the stage and remembered seeing the Goodfellas actor on stage at the Grand Theatre Lumiere in 2011 when he was president of the Cannes jury.

Said Ramirez, “They say that Cannes might be the city of dreams. Five years later I have the privilege to have him stand not only in my corner with the film you’re about to see tonight, but most importantly life…Robert you’re an artist whose talent is only matched by his generosity, that’s the best way to describe what you mean to me.”

A sizzle reel of De Niro’s greatest hits then played including footage from Casino, 1900, The King Of Comedy, Once Upon A Time In America, Taxi Driver, Mean Streets, Raging Bull, Falling In Love, The Mission, The Untouchables and more.

A teary De Niro took the stage and kept it brief, saying, “All I can say is thank you.” He also ribbed the French announcer on stage that he’d like to be invited back as jury head, which prompted various folks in the crowd to respond, “Oui! Oui!“.

Following the Hands Of Stone screening, the audience erupted into a 15-minute standing ovation. Duràn was also in attendance. The movie opens in the U.S. and Canada on August 26.