The 18th Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival began Thursday night with two sold-out screenings of the drama Chappaquiddick and wrapped up a weekend of surprises on Sunday with the romantic comedy Keep the Change.

Festival artistic director Brian Ditchfield said attendance at this year’s festival “exceeded our expectations. It was packed all weekend long.”

Chappaquiddick is a painstakingly researched depiction of events surrounding the death of Mary Jo Kopechne in July 1969. The film’s writers, director and star Jason Clarke, who played Sen. Edward M. (Ted) Kennedy, took audience questions following the two screenings at Edgartown Cinemas.

Jason Clarke, star of Chappaquiddick was on hand to answer questions about the film. — Jeanna Shepard

“We weren’t interested in conspiracies, we were interested first and foremost in the truth,” screenwriter Taylor Allen said. “I think the truth has no political party and I think that’s something that applies today as well,” he added, to enthusiastic applause.

Mr. Clarke, an Australian actor known for Zero Dark Thirty, said he wore prosthetic teeth, worked intensively with a leading dialogue coach and listened to recorded speeches in order to master a convincing Massachusetts accent.

On Friday the festival moved to the Chilmark Community Center Campus, where it remained for the next three days, showing movies, hosting filmmaking workshops for kids, and creating a center for activities ranging from community meals to music to hanging out and talking about movies.

Saturday night’s viewing of Patti Cake$ brought an unscheduled treat: actress and comedienne Amy Schumer introduced a clip from her upcoming feature I Feel Pretty before the main feature, and afterward took the stage again with the film’s co-star, Bridget Everett, to answer audience questions.

Comfy couches equal a happy audience at the Chilmark Community Center. — Jeanna Shepard

“She is my absolute favorite live performer of all time, and this movie did a really good job of showcasing her,” Ms. Schumer said of her friend. “It’s just one of my favorite movies I’ve ever seen, and one of those that I still think is going to wind up being this huge thing.”

Ms. Schumer also had warm words for her new husband, Chris Fischer. The couple married in California last month.

“Chris, shout out to you, you’re mad cool and everything,” she said, to approving laughter and widespread applause.

“Yeah, just so psyched, thank you for showing me Martha’s Vineyard, it’s amazing,” Ms. Schumer said, adding that she has actually been coming to the Vineyard for 20 years.

Vineyard Playhouse artistic director MJ Bruder Munafo, who has been attending the film festival since it launched in 2001, said the event’s star power has increased over the decades.

Chris Fischer and Amy Schumer (front), Bridget Everett, star of Patti Cake$, and Molly Fischer (behind), at the sold-out screening Saturday night at the Chilmark Community Center. — Jeanna Shepard

“They didn’t have as many actors and directors coming in earlier years,” Ms. Bruder Munafo said.

Judy Fisher of West Tisbury, who has been attending the film festival for more than a dozen years, said she enjoyed Patti Cake$ and RBG, a documentary about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg that was one of the most sought-after tickets in the festival.

“It showed her strength, her story and various sides of her,” Ms. Fisher said. “I thought it was inspirational.”

Ms. Fisher said that the panel discussions and Q&A sessions are one of her favorite elements of the film festival.

Seasonal Chilmark resident Richard Lazarus, who teaches at Harvard Law School, also praised RBG and said he is trying to get permission to show it at the law school. Mr. Lazarus said he caught an error in the film when, in one clip, it identified a voice as that of Chief Justice John Roberts.

Kids were well represented all weekend, with films and workshops created especially for them. — Jeanna Shepard

“It was [Justice Samuel] Alito,” said Mr. Lazarus, who knows his justices. He formerly taught law at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where his focus included Supreme Court advocacy.

Throughout the weekend chef Robert Lionette of Chilmark produced a series of farm-to-table meals, including codfish with local potatoes and spinach and freshly-grilled flatbread, for hungry festival-goers to enjoy in the tented Hay Café outside the community center.

Dana Edelman of West Tisbury returned as the festival’s music director, programming a series of live sets by local musicians on the Hay Café stage and in the Community Center, where pianists including David Stanwood and Griffin McMahon performed before screenings.

Thomas Bena, founder and president of the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival, said several audience members suggested the festival extend its programming into the high school.

“We would like to do more of that,” Mr. Bena said. He named festival documentaries Blue, The Devil We Know, Science Fair and Dark Money among those appropriate for young adult audiences.

“These are precisely the films that we’d love to share with the young minds,” Mr. Bena said.

More pictures.