The Martha’s Vineyard Film Society’s International Film Festival began screening films on Tuesday but the opening party took place Thursday evening with a pond-side soiree and screening of Korean drama Broker, which took home the best actor award at Cannes earlier this year.

The festival continues through Sunday, Sept. 11 and includes a Short Film Juried Competition on Friday night, as well as a closing party on Sunday following a screening of the Spanish film Official Competition.

“It’s not only great to get everyone back in the theaters this year, but it’s also especially nice to be able to party again,” said Richard Paradise, festival organizer and president of the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society.

Cinema enthusiasts and filmmakers mingled outside the film center on Thursday evening ahead of the screening, enjoying refreshments and catering from Goldie’s Rotisserie (the chocolate chip cookie tray had to be refilled four times, emptying within minutes.)

Gathering together for the love of film. — Jeanna Shepard

Some filmmakers, like JJ Kandel, embraced the festival as an opportunity to visit the Island for the first time.

“I mean, it’s a beautiful locale,” Mr. Kandel said, gesturing to the view of Lagoon Pond behind him.

Mr. Kandel is the director behind the short film entry Sparring Partner, which tracks a flirtatious relationship between two coworkers.

“Flirting is a kind of sparring,” he said. “It’s a give-and-take, for sure, and the winner is whoever can avoid embarrassment.”

Mr. Kandel’s performance studio, Stage to Screen, adapts one-act plays into short films, he said, so that well-written works can outlive their theatrical runs. Sparring Partner was originally a stage play, he said, but the vitality of the characters compelled him to give it new life.

David Heilbroner, Sturgis Warner, Signe Baumane and Kate Davis. — Jeanna Shepard

“The only challenge is cutting it down,” Mr. Kandel said. While one-acts tend to run about 20 to 30 minutes, short films top out at just 15 to 20 minutes.

“We try to pick stories that can carry interest on their own,” he continued. “Obviously you want it to look good, but you’re really putting faith in the words and the actors.”

Latvian animator and filmmaker Signe Baumane also deals with romance in her work, although through a more fantastical lens. Her animated entry My Love Affair with Marriage is an autobiographical journey through her past relationships and the factors that caused their demise, she said, describing it as a “biological thriller.”

“It’s really about how hard life is for a young woman,” Ms. Baumane said, “There’s a lot of pressure to be a certain way, and the way you’re taught to be a woman is actually what ends up destroying intimacy in a relationship.”

An independent animated feature, the film took seven years for Ms. Baumane to produce, composed of over 40,000 handmade drawings. My Love Affair with Marriage was crowdfunded by over 1,500 individual donors, a process Ms. Baumane said she was both incredibly grateful for and frustrated with.

Catering was done by Goldie's Rotisserie. — Jeanna Shepard

“As an independent filmmaker, the constant need to ask for funding can make you feel undervalued,” she said. “People think animation is for children, or they associate it with Pixar and Disney. What I do isn’t comparable to Disney. It’s a labor of love.”

The film is also a musical, with lyrics by Ms. Baumane and music by Italian composer Kristian Sensini. Although most of the songs fall in the folk jazz genre, she said, the closing number is an original pop song, signaling an emotional shift.

“I would love for the audience to come out of the theater humming the end credit song,” Ms. Baumane said. “The main message of the movie is hope...that we can be who we are and still be with someone.”

My Love Affair With Marriage screened at 4 p.m. on Friday, followed tonight by the Short Films Juried Competition at 7:30 p.m.