Taormina Fest to Honor Philip Seymour Hoffman, Feature 'Planet of the Apes' Sneak Peek

"How To Train Your Dragon a" will open the Taormina Film Fest

The Sicilian event will open Saturday with the Italian premiere of "How to Train Your Dragon 2" at the famous Teatro Antico.

ROME – The 60th edition of the Taormina Film Festival will open this year with a dragon and close with an ape, with plenty of what the festival calls "eduglam" -- a cross between "education" and "glamor" -- mixed in between.

The festival announced Monday it will open on Saturday with the Italian premiere of How to Train Your Dragon 2, the 3D animated adventure story from Dreamworks Animation directed by Dan DeBlois

The cliff-side Italian fest will close seven days later with a special 20-minute extended trailer of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the new Matt Reeves-directed installment of the iconic franchise.

The two films are scheduled to go into wide release in Italy Aug. 16 and July 10, respectively.

The festival previously announced it would focus this year's edition on women in film with plenty of leading women on hand for the theme, including Bo Derek, Eva Longoria, Melanie Griffith, Carmel Maura, Paz Vega, as well as big Italian stars Claudia Cardinale, Isabella Ferrari and Cristiana Capotondi.

Also adding to the "glamor" side of the festival's equation are male stars Matt Dillon, Ben Stiller, John Turturro and Raoul Bova.

For the education side of the formula, the festival will host a series of master classes, featuring stars and industry figures focusing on third-year artistic director Mario Sesti's favorite film genres: horror and comedy.

Another highlight for the festival's picturesque setting -- which includes the festival's signature 2,800-year-old Teatro Antico venue -- is a June 17 homage to Philip Seymour Hoffman that will feature a screening of his 2008 film Synecdoche, New York.

Also part of the Taormina lineup are the European premiere of Clint Eastwood's Jersey Boys on June 15 and a special tribute to Cardinale, the 76-year-old former starlet best known for her roles in timeless classics, such as Luchino Visconti's The Leopard (Il gattopardo) (1963), Federico Fellini's 8 1/2 (1963), and Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West (1968).

Festival officials noted that attendance has been on the rise since the event nearly closed in the wake of funding issues in 2011. Teatro Antico ticket sales rose by nearly a third last year, with some evenings selling out the 5,000-seat venue for the first time in more than a decade.

Twitter: @EricJLyman