Dark skies and a torrential downpour couldn’t dampen the spirits of about 200 cinephiles at the opening night fiesta on Thursday for the 13th annual Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival, held on the banks of Lagoon Pond. Guests enjoyed shrimp tacos and sipped Mexican beer under a large white tent, discussing what films to see in the coming days of the festival.

Debra Winston and John Haverlick were set on Smuggling Hendrix, a Greek comedy about a runaway puppy showing Friday night at the Capawock Theatre.

“We’re dog lovers, we have to see that,” said Ms. Winston. She added that the pair were on a two-week Island vacation from Keene Valley, N.Y., and couldn’t resist checking out the festival’s offerings.

Storm rolled in to Lagoon Pond, but party kept going and indoors at the cinema it was quite dry. — Jeanna Shepard

“We live in a small rural town with no easy access to films like this,” she said. “We’re spending every night of our first week at the Film Center.”

The six-day festival runs through Sunday and features international films from around the world. Thursday night’s feature Feliz Año Tijuana came from Mexico. The movie was shot over one full day and night in Tijuana using improvised dialogue. The setting of the film was the inspiration for the fiesta themed party, where hibiscus flowers adorned the tables and sombreros were in fashion.

Soon after festivities began, a storm rolled in with sheets of rain and blustery winds. Emerging from the downpour, Film Center executive director Richard Paradise looked like he had just walked off the set of Singing in the Rain carrying a green umbrella and displaying wide grin.

“The festival really starts with this party. Food, culture, film, wine...they all converge here,” he said, donning a sombrero and joining the soiree. He added that his goal is always to bridge cultures and celebrate universal themes with the festival’s international focus.

Jeremy Berlin, Eric Johnson and Taurus Biskis entertained the crowd. — Jeanna Shepard

“I always envisioned a festival of world cinema because we don’t get enough of it,” he said. “The festival is to enhance world cinema and world culture.”

Doreen Kinsman agreed, reminiscing on when she served lemonade and popcorn upstairs at the Grange Hall 20 years ago when Mr. Paradise first started showing non-traditional films on the Island.

“I’ve been coming for decades,” she said. “I come to every movie I’m free to see. I’m there at least three times a week.”

Avi Lev looked back to when the Film Center was built in 2012 and how it immediately became a cultural hub on the Island, especially in the off-season.

Festival runs through Sunday so there is still plenty to see. — Jeanna Shepard

“It brought a whole new venue of art to the Island,” he said, adding that he’s become a regular at the annual festival. “The films they choose are consistently very good. They do a good job for the town. It’s been a godsend.”

The storm passed and guests started walking over to the theatre. It was a packed house, and Mr. Paradise had a surprise in store, a Skype interview with actor Luis Deveze, one of the stars of the film. Mr. Deveze originally intended to attend the premiere in person, but then discovered there was another premiere scheduled for the same night: the Hollywood premiere at the famous Egyptian theatre.

“Sorry about that,” he told the laughing crowd, promising to visit the Vineyard soon before blowing them a kiss goodbye. The lights dimmed, cell phones were turned off and another night of the festival was underway.

The Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival runs through Sunday, Sept. 9 at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center and the Capawock Theatre in Vineyard Haven. Visit mvfilmsociety.com for tickets and film schedules.