- International Competition
- Various prizes are awarded to works in the International Competition, which features 15 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.
- 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 at YIDFF in the hopes of encountering talents who reveal the possibilities of film here and abroad. The award is given to a film in the New Asian Currents and Perspectives Japan programs, selected from the distinctive perspective of the DGJ. The criteria for selection is a passionate film, completed by overcoming various national conditions and difficulties facing the production, and a director whose future work carries great expectations. The winning director will be presented with the Directors Guild of Japan Award certificate, a trophy, and a cash prize.