“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,” the Latin music mogul told The Associated Press in an interview on Wednesday. “We had a very beautiful friendship … I met her as a singer, as an actress, but at the same time as a person.”
Estefan, who directed specials featuring Rivera, and television producer Dave Broome have partnered with the Rivera family, who gave them exclusive rights to produce the film. They expect to release it late this year, though it is unclear whether it will be a theatrical release.
Rivera’s sister, Rosie, said in an email that the film will be emotional for the singer’s children, who are now grown, but the family believes the time is right to show her final concert.
“It is an intimate night with Jenni,” she said. “To my sister Jenni, her faith, her family and her fans were everything. Jenni would have wanted to share this moment of her life with the world.”
Rivera was killed on Dec. 9, 2012 at the age of 43 in a plane crash. The night before she died, she performed in Monterrey, Mexico, and that footage will be included in the documentary.
“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.
His idea for the film is to have the singer of hits such as “Mariposa de Barrio,” ″Paloma Negra” and “De Contrabando” narrating her own story.
“You are going to see something that’s really priceless. You are going to see her in concert again, but above all you will get to know much more and I think you’ll be certainly surprised by many things that are going to come out, told directly by her,” Estefan said.
The film will also include archival material and interviews Estefan conducted with Rivera on his past radio show. Estefan praised Rivera’s courage to openly talk about her painful past, including her own rape and the sexual abuse of family members by her ex-husband.
“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 said.
In the end, Estefan hopes not only to pay tribute to Rivera but to all “women that have been mistreated, that have been deceived, that have been abused,” particularly in the #MeToo era.
“Now people are being more open about these things and it that makes me happy,” he said. “I’m glad that this is happening and I hope she gets some credit for it as well.”