Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal on co-founding Tribeca Film Festival, 2014 lineup

The screenings are about to get under way in Lower Manhattan and beyond during the 13th annual Tribeca Film Festival.

The event was co-conceived in 2001 by Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro and producer Jane Rosenthal in the wake of 9/11 as a way to try to revitalize the surrounding area.

Now, De Niro is happy to be celebrating the fact that they're hosting the event for the 13th time, while remaining cautiously optimistic.

"This is the 13th year, which is always, you know, I'm superstitious," De Niro said, before literally knocking on his wooden chair.

Rosenthal added, "The first year, we [organized] it in 120 days and we weren't even sure if we were going to have films."

They've come a long way.

This year's cinema event will include 89 feature-length films and almost 60 shorts. Over 500,000 viewers are expected to attend.

"Well, it's lasted all these years and that, we're very happy about," De Niro said of the festival's success. "It's becoming part of the New York fabric and culture and will be, even more as the years go by, part of something that everybody looks forward to and participates in. It's great."

At TFF 2014, the opening night selection will be a bit unconventional. The documentary "Time Is Illmatic" marks 20 years since the release of Nas' "Illmatic" album and examines the impact of the rapper's recording on pop culture. Nas himself will perform following the opening night screening, which will be held at the Upper West Side's Beacon Theater.

Other music-themed documentaries will also be shown at the festival this year. Making its world premiere, "Bjork: Biophilia Live" centers around one of the Icelandic recording artist's surreal concerts. Another one to look out for is a work-in-progress documentary from Academy Award-winner Alex Gibney about the life of James Brown.

The documentaries this year will delve into a wide range of topics, from late Texas Governor Ann Richards, Alice Cooper, Legos, Bitcoin, Nathan's Hot Dogs and General Tso's chicken.

Courteney Cox is stepping into the director's chair for the first time with "Just Before I Go," starring Seann William Scott and Olivia Thirlby.

"Vicky Christina Barcelona" actor Chris Messina will also be making his directorial debut with "Alex of Venice," co-starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

"Chef," which was previously screened at this year's South by Southwest, comes from director-actor Jon Favreau and co-stars Sofia Vergara, Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson. Favreau plays an ex-chef who tries to reconnect with his family while building a food truck business.

Funnyman Robin Williams will take on darker fare with "Boulevard," playing a man who embarks on a strange car ride.

Joss Whedon wrote the screenplay for the new romantic drama "In Your Eyes," starring Zoe Kazan.

Other highlights this year will include Paul Haggis' "Third Person," Roman Polanski's "Venus in Fur," Katie Holmes in "Miss Meadows," "Match" with Patrick Stewart, "5 to 7" with Glenn Close and "Every Secret Thing," written by "Enough Said" director Nicole Holofcener and starring Elizabeth Banks, Dakota Fanning, Common and Diane Lane.

"The Butler" director Lee Daniels, Ron Howard, Kevin Spacey, Michael Douglas, Alec Baldwin, Aaron Sorkin and Bryan Cranston are some of the big names expected to participate in live discussions this year.

The list of seven jury panels was recently revealed. Judges will be tasked with giving out cash prizes to filmmakers in select categories. Jeff Goldblum, Whoopi Goldberg, Toni Collette, Heather Graham and Natasha Lyonne are among the notable jury members this year.

The 2014 Tribeca Film Festival will be held April from 16-27. Tickets for screenings are now on sale. Those who can't make it to New York can also access festival programs on the official website.

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    Ken Lombardi is an entertainment reporter for CBS News. He has interviewed over 300 celebrities, including Clint Eastwood, Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks.

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