- 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, 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.
Azuma Kenjiro, the sculptor who designed the YIDFF trophy, passed away in October 2016. Here, Okabe Nobuyuki of the Yamagata Museum of Art expresses his deep condolences and looks back at the trail he blazed and the things he achieved when he was alive.
Azuma Kenjiro was born in Domachi, Yamagata City in 1926, the second son of seven siblings in a family that had worked in the bronze casting industry for generations. As the first student in the Sculpture Department of the Tokyo University of the Arts under the new education system put in place after the Pacific War, Azuma travelled to Milan in 1956 as an exchange student sponsored by the Italian Government. In Milan he studied under Marino Marini (1901–1980), a leading 20th Century sculptor. Azuma was to base himself in Milan for the next fifty years, engaged in a diverse range of work. He passed away on October 15, 2016, at his home in Milan.
MU, unveiled in 1961, shows Azuma finding his voice as an artist. In the piece, he focuses his attention on the ways in which wood chips used in wood-burning stoves scatter, creating a relief in which plaster is sprinkled over the wood. From 1963 on, Azuma’s work evolved into three-dimensional objects, ending with MU-1000 (1984), which was installed in front of Yamagata City Hall. Next he moved on to the YU series, in which he explored the freedom in the movement of indeterminate forms.
The round holes that can be seen in Azuma’s work, which resemble holes eaten out of clothes by moths, are an experiment in constituting reality out of void. Azuma himself says, “That which can be seen by the eye is but limited existence, which becomes completely erased with time. Yet, spirit and emotions, imperceptible to the eye, do not fade; they continue on for eternity. I believe that they go on to become things like human history and culture” (Azuma Kenjiro, Azuma, 1988). While Azuma’s works carry a certain tension in their abstract forms, one also senses a vitality and warmth. His oeuvre can be said to be his response to the primordial object, as well as including the kind of abundant exuberance and fervency that attracted Azuma to the work of his teacher, Marini.
The design of the YIDFF trophy is based on an image of the bright yellow-green stalks of rice plants at harvest time. One imagines that the sculpture is layered with Azuma’s experiences and memories of childhood in Yamagata. It is a gift from the sculptor to a film festival founded in Yamagata, as well as to the people from all over the world who gather in Yamagata seeking an encounter with cinema.
- 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 John Junkerman, Takahara Hidekazu, Nakamura Yoshihiro and Negoro Yu.