Thanks to the FVFS (Federation of Victorian Film Societies) and the national body ACOFS (Australian Council of Film Societies), all film societies have access to films at a reduced rate for a film's screening rights. FVFS & ACOFS brokered a deal with the distributors because Film Societies are not-for-profit community organisations. The fee is based in part on the size of a society and for WFS the going rate is approx. $80 per film per screening (if we wanted to screen a film twice it would cost $160 etc.). It is referred to as the 'non-theatrical' screening rights and is vastly cheaper than the 'theatrical' rights. It is also the reason that film societies can only screen to Members. People cannot walk up and buy a ticket to watch a film at a film society, it is contrary to the above agreement.
Most distributors have signed up to this deal and I have listed some below. You will recognise a few but may not know others.
Roadshow; Amalgamated; Potential Films; Gustofilms (Gus Berger, an independent film maker who holds the rights for his own films); FVFS (also hold the rights for some independent films in their library - King of Peking is from their collection).
The Distributors are sent our potential program. They write back outlining which films they have the non-theatrical screening rights to. We confirm the film & date and the distributor sends out a contract and invoices us closer to the date of the screening.
Distributors are usually very quick to reply, so the process doesn't take too long to finalise. However, there is often one or two films which take a little more hunting to determine who holds the rights.