About Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival (YIDFF)

The first Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival was held in 1989 as an event to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Yamagata City. It has been held biennially ever since in Yamagata's best season, October.

Until recently, the week-long YIDFF was one of the few film festivals in Asia devoted exclusively to the documentary form. Its scope, however, reaches beyond simply screening recent groundbreaking work in the International Competition. New Asian Currents, the competition program introducing emerging filmmakers from across Asia, has over the years become one of the Festival’s vibrant centers of attention as a meeting place of raw youthful energy. By featuring special events and programs shedding light on the history and diversity of filmmaking, the YIDFF is working hard to create a new forum for the production of alternative, independent, non-fiction film and the discussion of documentary as a form of expression.

It was in this spirit that the documentarist Ogawa Shinsuke, who passed away in 1992, spearheaded the organization of the first Festival. From the time of his earliest films about the Narita Airport protests in the 1960s to 70s, to his last works produced in Yamagata, Ogawa encouraged filmmakers around Asia to devote their energy to making meaningful documentaries. In honor of this dedicated filmmaker, the Ogawa Shinsuke Prize was established in 1993 to provide encouragement to young Asian documentarists.

We hope the YIDFF will always provide a fruitful and enjoyable gathering place for filmmakers from abroad and for the citizens of Yamagata City.

YIDFF Programs

Main programs are consisted of two competition sections:

< International Competition >

A program that began with the very first YIDFF. Feature-length works are sought from around the world, and from over 1,000 entries emerges a stringent selection of 15 cinematic gems, richly varied and representing the vanguard of world filmmaking. Various prizes are awarded to excellent works in this section, and the best work is given the grand prize, Robert and Frances Flaherty Prize.

< 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.

< Special Programs >

YIDFF also organizes other various special programs and discussion events: the program introducing new excellent Japanese documentaries, special retrospectives of remarkable filmmakers, films related to specific areas and countries,  "Yamagata and Film" featuring works and industry people relevant to Yamagata city, and "Cinema with Us" introducing documentaries about 3.11 the Great East Japan Earthquake.

For further information, please refer to the YIDFF official website.

Record of Awards

Feb 1998: Japan Film Pen Club Award

Nov 2001: Yamaji Fumiko Cultural Award

Jan 2005: The 54th Kahoku Bunka Award

Oct 2006: The Japan Foundation Special Prize

Aug 2007: Suntory Prize for Community Cultural Activities

Mar 2008: The 25th NHK Tohoku Furusato Award

July 2011: Kawakita Award

Mar 2012: The 9th Cinema Yume Club Award

Feb 2013: The 3rd Chiiki Saisei Award: The Second Prize