While Dune might be the biggest movie with a Canuck at the helm at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), there’s no reason to be cynical. The next Denis Villeneuve could be among this year’s class of emerging Canadian filmmakers. Any good festival thrives on the thrill of discovery, and while Dune might offer the most bang for your buck, the next generation of Canadian talent promises to be the most exciting selection at TIFF this year.

Four films in particular give hope for the future of Canada’s film scene: Quickening, Learn to Swim, Wildhood, and Scarborough. These four films all wrestle with questions of community and belonging with each story expressed through a distinct vision and style. All four were shot either in part or in full during the pandemic, too. That’s no easy feat for freshman and sophomore filmmakers working on shoestring budgets. Rather, it’s proof of well-honed talents to watch

Here are four films by up-and-coming filmmakers in the Class of TIFF ‘21.