Emilio Estefan is developing a documentary about the late Diva de la Banda Jenni Rivera featuring unseen concert footage from her last performance.
The acclaimed Cuban-American music producer has partnered with television producer Dave Broome and they’re working with the Rivera family, who gave them exclusive rights to produce the film.
The 43-year-old banda singer died December 9, 2012 in a fiery plane crash in Iturbide, south of Monterrey, Mexico where she had just performed.
The documentary will also feature interviews by Estefan, who praised Rivera’s characteristic honesty and vulnerability about issues including sexual abuse.
“Many times women that have been abused or mistreated don’t say anything for fear of being blamed for what had happened to them, but she was always open and she was honest,” he told The Associated Press.
He ultimately hopes not only to pay tribute to Rivera but, in the era of #MeToo, to all “women that have been mistreated, that have been deceived, that have been abused.” Her sister Rosie Rivera published a book in 2016 discussing the abuse she endured at the hands of Jenni’s ex-husband when she was eight years old.
His idea for the film is to have Rivera, known for hits including “Mariposa de Barrio,” “Culpable O Inocente,” “Las Malandrinas,” and “De Contrabando” narrating.
“I really want people to know her with the same admiration that I had for her as a human being, and that her fans realize how important her followers, and especially her family, were to her,” Estefan said. “We had a very beautiful friendship … I met her as a singer, as an actress, but at the same time as a person.”
Jenni Rivera was raised in Long Beach, California to Mexican parents and at the time of her death was the single most successful woman on the Billboard Latin charts.
She succeeded in an industry dominated by men and went on to sell 15 million records and receive several Grammy nominations.
She made history in September 2011 when she became the first female regional Mexican artist to sell out the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The mother of five and grandmother of two, died along with six other people when the plane hit rough terrain in a nose-dive at a reported speed exceeding 600 miles per hour.
No definite reason was given for the crash though there were a series of factors, including the condition of the Learjet and the age and experience of the pilot and co-pilot, according to a preliminary report released by Mexican authorities.
It took the investigative team several days to go through the wreckage where they found fragments of human remains along with her California driver’s license.
Her makeup artist Jacob Yebale posted an Instagram photo of the group that included her publicist Arturo Rivera, her stylist Jorge Sanchez, and her attorney Mario Macias on the plane that night.
“I think that her story, and especially that show that’s a historic concert, will surprise,” Estefan said. “What surprised me from what I’ve seen was the premonition that she had by saying things… like ‘I hope you go to church tomorrow because I am going to see God, I am going to speak with God tomorrow.’ And then she takes that plane and the plane crashes.”
“One can only wonder, ‘Did she have a feeling? Did she think that something was going to happen? Because she said some incredible things,” he added.
They plan to release the film later this year.