POTSDAM, N.Y. (WWTI) — Potsdam: A village home to nearly 15,000 residents, two colleges and hundreds of decorated toilets.
The world-known debate of the Potsdam toilet gardens, led by resident Hank Robar, began over 20 years ago, when he believed he was treated poorly when he tried to sell a piece of property and used the toilets as a protest.
This controversy is now the topic of the feature-length documentary “Potty Town,” directed by Potsdam’s Morgan Elliott, who grew up with the toilets essentially in his backyard.
“The toilets have always been something I wondered about as a kid because it’s been around since I was 11 or 12 years old,” Elliott explained.
After receiving degrees in film and television and working on sets for years, Elliott decided to take his hometown story to the big screen.
For five years spent the majority of his time interviewing both sides of the argument, doing film work and getting to know the man behind the toilets.
But Elliott said the main goal of the film pushes far beyond the symbol of the decorative latrines.
“It’s part of the identity of the community,” Elliot shared. “It’s also a debate in the community over, whether it is art or not.”
The debated art has been the subject of protests, petitions, international news sources and arguments. But, Elliott said since “Potty Town” was released on August 9, the Potsdam community has supported the film’s message.
“I think people feel like the village was represented fairly,” Elliott said. “It’s not just rural America, it’s also a college town, a quaint victorian village and it’s Potty Town. I think people felt like all those aspects were represented in the film.”
“Potty Town” is now available to rent or buy on streaming services across the United States. Visit the film’s website for more.