- International Competition
- Various prizes are awarded to works in the International Competition, which features fifteen documentaries selected from around the world. The best work is given the Robert and Frances Flaherty Prize, named for the husband and wife team who cultivated and expanded the horizons of documentary film.
New Asian Currents
- New Asian Currents introduces and supports the works of up-and-coming Asian documentaries, without placing restrictions on format or length. The most promising work is awarded the Ogawa Shinsuke Prize, named in honor of the film director who played a key role in the creation of the festival and strove to facilitate exchange between Asian documentarists.
- This prize is based on the number of votes by viewers in response to questionnaires distributed during the festival.
Designed for YIDFF by sculptor Azuma Kenjiro, the trophies are modeled after the bright yellow-green stalks of rice plants at harvest time, one of the symbols of Yamagata City and Yamagata Prefecture.