- 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 documentarists, without placing restrictions on format or length. The most promising work is awarded the Ogawa Shinsuke Prize, named in honor of the filmmaker who played a key role in the creation of the festival and strove to facilitate exchange among Asian documentarists.
- This prize is voted on by the YIDFF audience, decided by a ballot handed out at the screenings.
Designed for YIDFF by sculptor Azuma Kenjiro (1926–2016), 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 eighty years, the Directors Guild of Japan has recognized emerging talents in Japan with its New Directors Award since 1960. It established this prize at YIDFF in hopes of encountering talents who reveal the possibilities of film here and abroad. The winning director, chosen from the New Asian Currents and Perspectives Japan programs, will be presented with the Directors Guild of Japan Award certificate, a trophy, and a cash prize. This year’s jurors are Naito Makoto, Mizutani Toshiyuki and Takebayashi Norio.