Federico Fellini traveled to Los Angeles in 1984. He made the trip to meet Carlos Castaneda to discuss adapting his book on the teachings of Don Juan for the screen. These were difficult times for Fellini, whose popularity was waning, especially with producers. He felt a film about ancient magic and mysterious sorcerers would dispel the dark cloud he was under.
Just days away from his flight to L.A., Fellini received a phone call from a bizarre mechanical sounding Voice, foretelling what he should expect on his American journey. Fellini assumed the call was a prank, but he was disturbed by the cryptic and intimately personal nature of the message.
Meanwhile, I had moved to L.A. on a spiritual whim, weeks before Fellini's arrival. A psychic confidante had foretold encounters with extraterrestrials and sorcerers and famous Italian directors who would transport me to a new life in Rome. At his L.A. hotel, Fellini received another call from The Voice, who told him to have one of his entourage bring a dancer. But she should not come alone, she should bring a woman. Sybil, a ballerina, invited me. The following morning, Fellini told me about The Voice, and how they had chosen me to be their muse. I believed his strange story and began receiving eerie phone calls myself. The strange alien Voice assigned me and Fellini a personal color in place of a name. Federico would be green, and I would be pink.
I met Fellini in the Yucatan to meet Castaneda. Because of the nature of Castaneda's work, Fellini felt sure he could help explain the significance of the strange mechanical Voice that haunted us. But Castaneda knew nothing, except that Don Juan had predicted that Fellini would come in search of answers.
Back in L.A., The Voice continued to besiege us. Their purpose, although unclear, was possibly to persuade Fellini to direct a film, which would express their mission on Earth. Fellini was frightened, and returned to Italy with me in tow soon after. But The Voice followed and began to communicate in ways beyond the telephone.
Fellini decided to go public with his experiences and published a story in Corriere Della Sera, Italy's national newspaper. The public was enchanted by the stories and demanded more, which led to the publication of the beautiful graphic novel Trip to Tulum, illustrated by Milo Manara. The novel pictorialized our trip to the Yucatan and the meeting with Carlos Castaneda.
Federico's final film entitled La Voce della Luna (The Voice of the Moon), starred Roberto Benigni and was released in 1990, six years after The Voice began to haunt him. I filmed his process in an acclaimed documentary Towards the Moon with Fellini. As in the graphic novel, I played the role of an American journalist searching for the truth. In fact, neither Fellini nor I ever figured out what it was that The Voice wanted. Fellini, sometimes known as the puppet master, often wondered if he had somehow offended vengeful spirits who decided to play him at his own game.
Fellini's friendship with me grew. The stories and graphic novel attracted a group of Castaneda devotees who tried to convince us to become their spiritual leaders, to move to Mexico, and to start up a new cult.
In 1993, Federico received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Oscars. I stood close by watching as he made his farewell speech to the world. Four months later, Fellini suffered a deadly stroke. He fell into a coma never to awaken. He died on Halloween night.
Since then, I have tried desperately to understand our adventure and the reason for it all. I have formed some theories but there is still so much that is shrouded in mystery...a mystery worthy of a Fellini film.