- International Competition
- Various prizes are awarded to works in the International Competition, which features fifteen documentaries selected from around the world. The work judged to be the best 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 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.
- Awarded as the result of audience vote during the festival. A supplementary prize presented by the Yamagata Beautiful Commission, a local citizens group.
Designed for YIDFF by sculptor Azuma Kenjiro (1926–2016), the trophies are modeled after the bright golden stalks of rice plants at harvest time, one of the symbols of Yamagata City and Yamagata Prefecture.