I saw the first two, then missed last year's because I wasn't paying attention. One thing has noticeably changed since the early years: the size and slickness of the productions. The first two featured a large number of what one might call "home-made films", put together by a handful of dedicated people and pinning their hopes on writing because they couldn't afford fancy props or sets or special effects. This time around, even the couple of films which most resembled those home-made films had a couple dozen people in the credits, and most of the films were much larger — fifty or a hundred or maybe even more. I have to wonder, because if you can get that many people to work on your film, maybe you don't really need a film festival to bring you recognition and encouragement. But you can put together something slick and pretty, so the people who could really use some help don't get through the initial selection.
I had to dig up the URL to link to, and I took a moment to look at the prize winners, and that was even more discouraging. The grand prize winner, FADE, was indeed very pretty and very slick: professionally acted and shot and edited. It was also a pointless piece of tripe which wanted to be a Twilight Zone episode, I guess, but couldn't get its cause and effect coherent enough. The result is some random weirdness draped over generic marriage drama, and the only point of interest was discovering that it was set in Australia (roo crossing sign in the background) rather than Canada.
I'm glad to see that Hirsute got the audience favorite. It was a simple film which depended on a clever idea and good writing.