The Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival is more than an armchair trip around the world this year — it also travels back in time with its opening night feature, the Japanese historical drama Wife of a Spy, which screens Sept. 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center in Vineyard Haven.

“I don’t tend to play a lot of period pieces, but this film does take place in the early 1940s, prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor,” said Richard Paradise, executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society and founder of the 16-year-old festival.

“It’s kind of a Hitchcock intrigue... a thriller,” Mr. Paradise said of the film, which is set in Japan and Manchuria.

Wife of a Spy and most of the other films in this year’s festival will be available for online viewing as well as at the film center, where Mr. Paradise said attendance has dropped off in recent weeks.

Two full-length features are restricted to big-screen viewing only, Mr. Paradise said — the Polish film Sweat (Sept. 12, 1 p.m.), about a personal trainer enmeshed in social media, and the closing night feature, Italian family drama The Macaluso Sisters (Sept. 12, 7:30 p.m.).

“It’s just a decision by the distributor of the film,” he said. “They decide they don’t want any virtual screenings at this time; it’s not in their strategy at this moment.”

The festival’s hybrid line-up includes movies from South Korea, Mexico, Spain, Morocco, Germany and Iran, as well as a joint Palestinian/Israeli production, The Mayor.

Representing another departure for Mr. Paradise, who said he typically doesn’t include documentaries in the international film festival, The Mayor offers a rare look at life in the Palestinian city of Ramallah from the viewpoint of its Christian mayor.

“It really shows you what it’s like to run a city in the midst of a war zone… and not really having a country,” Mr. Paradise said. “It’s an interesting little slice of life about this politician that has to navigate this city that is in the middle of one of the most focused-on, looked-at parts of the world.”

Both German films are fantasies, one cybernetic (I’m Your Man, manufacturing an ideal mate, Sept. 11 at 1 p.m.) and one supernatural (Undine, a new take on the mythic romance, Sept. 12 at 4 p.m.).

On Sept. 11 at 7:30 p.m. the festival presents an evening of short films, chosen from a juried competition and representing more than a half-dozen countries including Norway, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

“I think people are going to be knocked out by the diversity of those shorts,” Mr. Paradise said.

After filling the film center’s schedule, Mr. Paradise added three festival latecomers that will screen online exclusively.

“Maybe I’ll bring them back some time this autumn and put them in the theatre,” he said.

My Donkey, My Lover and I could only be a French comedy, Mr. Paradise said.

“Where else would you have a mistress following her lover on vacation with his family on a donkey ride in the Alps?… Only a French film would cover that from a comic side,” he said.

A second French film, Perfumes, has both comic and more serious aspects as it follows the growing understanding between a gifted perfumer and her sad-sack chauffeur, Mr. Paradise said.

“And then there’s this crazy film that came from the [2021] Sundance Film Festival, El Planeta,” he said. An American and Spanish production, the mother-daughter road comedy stars its writer and director with her own mother in the other leading role. Shot in black and white on a minuscule budget, the picture could be likened to the cult documentary Grey Gardens, taken on the road, Mr. Paradise said.

Film festival passes, available at, can be used both at the film center and online.

“It’s not exclusive to one platform or the other. You can blend them,” Mr. Paradise said.

The complete festival schedule is posted at