Pascual Sisto completed his cut of “John and the Hole” for the Cannes deadline in the spring, and after submitting it, he took some time off. “And, of course, that time off became a pandemic,” Sisto says.

Though Cannes was canceled, the festival announced its lineup anyway, and “John and the Hole” made the cut. “It’s unbelievable how much support they have just by picking some films without even having a festival,” he says.

“John and the Hole” eventually premiered at Sundance. It’s a collaboration between Sisto and Nicolás Giacobone, the Oscar-winning “Birdman” screenwriter whom Sisto met in the late ’90s.

Sisto, who is from Spain, moved to the United States in 1995 to attend Pasadena’s ArtCenter College of Design as a film student. After graduating, he tried to launch a film career in Los Angeles, but soon began “working on my own sort of visual experiments,” and started gaining traction as a visual artist.

In the early 2000s, Sisto and Giacobone made a short called “Océano” that Sisto shot on 35mm. “It was quite an ambitious project,” Sisto says. “We had to flood an entire house with water.” As Sisto had continued success in the art world, Giacobone “blew up” as a screenwriter. “And if I would ever do my first feature film, I knew it was gonna be with Nico.”

That first feature turned out to be “John and the Hole,” in which an inscrutable 13-year-old boy, John, drugs his family and deposits them at the bottom of a bunker he’s found in the woods. To find inspiration for the film’s aesthetics, Sisto watched the films of Robert Bresson and Christian Mungiu, particularly 2007’s “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” because of its “uncompromising camera work.”

Sisto, who is working on the script for his next movie with Giacobone now, doesn’t want to make movies that are “closed circuits.”

“I think it’s important to make films that don’t provide answers all the time,” he says. “It’s difficult to make these kinds of films in a commercial landscape, of course. But that’s a little bit of where I stand.”

Agency: United Talent Agency
Management: Untitled Entertainment
Legal: Greg Slewett