'Eastern European black-and-white, without dialogue,' says Amanda Casson, director of the British Short Film Festival, about her personal taste in short films. The festival, which features both British and international shorts, is Britain's only showcase for this much-overlooked art form.

Casson's taste might sound a tad serious and dreary, but rest assured: she just feels that you don't necessarily have to pack a mini Hollywood high-concept blockbuster into 11 minutes in order to make a short film. Which is what (judging by Channel 4's Short and Curlies) some people think a short is supposed to be about. Too many eager amateur scriptwriters and wannabe film-makers see the short film as simply a stepping-stone to features. 'The Europeans have a tremendous feel for the short film as a medium in its own right,' she says. 'They know how to shock, amuse or move you without spelling things out. You don't need a plot to convey a message.'

Aspiring short film-makers should take note, for Casson is in charge of whittling down some 1,700 British and international short films to 240 for this week's festival (including Borderland by Dominic Lees, right). Entrants span the spectrum from maverick film-makers shooting on video in their backyard to animation, experimental work and funded drama projects. While Casson has her own personal taste, she says that the main criterion she is looking for is plain old audience appeal. 'The films are to be seen and enjoyed as being either intellectually demanding, funny or pure enjoyment. We're not interested in film-makers who make films for themselves.'

The festival's programme is wide-ranging and includes everything from a section called 'The Best of British' to shorts made by prestigious artists and directors (like Jim Jarmusch and Mike Leigh), video documentaries, film portraits, nostalgia and even a film quiz. A feast for all movie lovers.

The British Short Film Festival runs from today until 29 Sept at the Plaza 2, Lower Regent Street, SW1 (0800 888997). Tickets and programmes are available at the door