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Relative import cannot find .so submodule?

I have a module named rtmidi, and its C submodule named rtmidi/_rtmidi. The distills script builds successfully and successfully creates a build/lib dir with a rtmidi dir in it and the submodule file rtmidi/ I have set PYTHONPATH to this lib dir, but rtmidi/ gives the following error:

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "", line 6, in <module>
    from pkmidicron import MainWindow, util, ports
  File "/Users/patrick/dev/pkmidicron/pkmidicron/", line 1, in <module>
    from .mainwindow import *
  File "/Users/patrick/dev/pkmidicron/pkmidicron/", line 2, in <module>
    import rtmidi
  File "/Users/patrick/dev/pkmidicron/pyrtmidi/build/lib/rtmidi/", line 1, in <module>
    from ._rtmidi import *
ModuleNotFoundError: No module named 'rtmidi._rtmidi?

How does the module finder work in the import system? I assume ti automatically resolves the name to _rtmidi? I didn?t have any luck reading the docs on the import system.