When a director’s drawing heat, their first order of business is often channeling that buzz towards a long-held passion project they’ve had difficulty getting made. So for Guillermo del Toro, whose The Shape of Water started “best film of his career?” conversations right out of the gate of its Venice premiere earlier this week, the time is right to revisit the Pinocchio option. And in a press appearance at Venice, the notorious G.D.T. said that there’s only one stumbling block between him and his dream film — but it’s an expensive stumbling block.

For years, the filmmaker has been attempting to corral the resources for a retelling of the classic folktale about the puppet who came to life, and a new statement suggests he‘s just a paltry $35 million away from making his vision real. Indiewire quotes Del Toro as saying:

I’ve been looking for financing for almost ten years. We have the puppets, we have the design. I always or almost always complicate my life. None of the movies I want to do are easy. And they don’t belong to anything anyone wanted to do at that time. No one wanted to do superheroes when I did Hellboy, no one wanted to do monsters when I did Pacific Rim. When I announced Pinocchio I got many calls: “Yeah but it’s set during the rise of Mussolini, it’s an anti-fascist Pinocchio.” [mimes they all hung up] If you have $35 million and if you want to make a Mexican happy, here I am.

The fearful producers of Hollywood don‘t want Del Toro getting his politics in their beloved kiddie tale, but it’s important to remember that the little wooden boy who dreamt of being real was first conceived as an allegory for a broken Italy. The nation, split and competing with itself under fascism, also fantasized about being a “real boy” on a geopolitical scale. In this respect, this is the most eminently appropriate take on the material. Frankly, the acid-trip nightmare of the Disney adaptation should have been a harder sell.

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