- 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.
- Community Cinema Award
- This prize is awarded by the Japan Community Cinema Center, which supports efforts to promote a vibrant film culture in local cities and towns through the screening of a diversity of films. The judges are people involved with screening films in these localities, and they will select the film they most want to screen for their audiences. The winning film will receive a prize and assistance in the exhibition of the film in Japan.
- Directors Guild of Japan Award
- With a history of over 70 years, the Directors Guild of Japan has recognized emerging talents in Japan with a New Directors Award since 1960. It established this prize in the hopes of encountering talents who reveal the possibilities of film here and abroad.
- Sky Perfect IDEHA Prize
- This prize, established by SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation, supports the growth of documentary filmmakers and their new projects. It will be awarded to the most promising documentarist from Japan, chosen from among the directors of Japanese films shown in the International Competition, New Asian Currents, and New Docs Japan programs. One juror will be invited from an international film festival of the first ranks of world cinema. The prize will offer Japanese films a chance to spread their wings abroad. The name of the prize is derived from Yamagata’s ancient name, which literally means “emerge,” “embark,” or “wings.”